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Full text of "History of Florence and of the affairs of Italy, from the earliest times to the death of Lorenzo the Magnificent; together with the Prince, and various historical tracts. A new translation"

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Chap. I. — Irruption of northern people upon the Roman territories — Visi- 
goths — Vandals — Franks and Burgundians — Huns — Angles in England 
— Attilla — Genseric — The Lombards . . .1 

Chap. II. — Roman empire under Zeno — Theodoric — Changes in the Ro- 
man empire — New languages — New names — Belisarius — Totila — Narses 
— The Lombards change the form of government . . 6" 

Chap. III. — The pontiffs in Italy — Pepin, king of France — Charlemagne 
— The title of cardinal — The empire passes to the Germans — Berenga- 
rius . . . . . .13 

Chap. IV. — Guelphs and Ghibellines — Kingdom of Naples — Pope Urban 
II. — The first crusade — Frederick Barbarossa — An anti-pope — Henry, 
king of England — Orders of St. Dominic and St. Francis . 10 

Chap. V. — The house of Este— Frederick II. — Naples— Guelphs and 

bellines in Lombardy — Charles of Anjou — Nicholas III. — Institution 

of the jubilee — The popes at Avignon . . .26 

Chap. VI. — The emperor Henry in Italy — The duchy of Milan — The 
Emperor Louis— John, king of Bohemia — Venice— Venetians . 32 

Chap. VII. — Schism in the church — Boniface IX. — Council of Pisa — Of 
Constance — Filippo Visconti — Giovanna II. of Naples . 40 


Chap. I. — Advantage of colonies — Origin of Florence — The Florentines 

take Fiesolq,— First division in Florence — Buondelmonti . 46 

Chap. II. — Florence in the power of Naples — Farinata degli Uberti — 

Establishment of trades' companies — Count Guido Novello . 52 

Chap. III. — The Si<morv created — The Gonfalonier of Justice created — 

Ubaldo Ruffoli— Giano della Bella . . .59 

Chap. IV. — The Cerchi and the Donati — Origin of Biancha and Nera 

factions — Charles of Valois sent by the pope to Florence . 65 

Chap. V. — Restless conduct of Corso Donati — War with Uguccione della 

Faggiuola — Count Novello — Lando d'Agobbio . . 7- 

Chap. VI. — War with Castruccio — The Squittini established — Raymond of 

Cardona — Charles, duke of Calabria — The Emperor Louis . 79 

Chap. VII. — The emperor at Rome — The Bardi and Frescobaldi — MaftVo ►aff°3 

da Marradi — The duke of Athens . . .84 

Chap. VIII. — The duke of Athens requires to be made prince of Florenc of hi* 

— His tyrannical proceedings — Conspiracies — He withdraws from the 

city . . . . . .91 

Chap. IX. — Many cities and territories, subject to the Florentines, rebel;^^ 

Riot of Andrea Strozzi — The plague of which Boccaccio speaks > ^ 102 



^iap. I. — Domestic discords of republics — Rome and Florence — The 
Ricci and Albizzi — Uguccione — Piero 

Chap. II.— War against the pope's legate — The Capitani di Parte — Sal- 
vestro de Medici Gonfalonier . . . 118 

Chap. III. — Measures adopted by the magistrates to effect a pacification — 
Luigi Guicciardini — The woollen art — Speech of a plebeian . 124 

Chap. IV. — Proceedings of the plebeians — They insist that the Signory 
leave the palace — Michele di Lando Gonfalonier . 131 

Chap. V. — New regulations for elections of the Signory — Confusion in the 
city— Piero degli Albizzi and others condemned — Approach of Charles 
of Durazzo — Giorgio Scali — Benedetto Alberti — Giorgio beheaded 138 

Chap. VI. — Riots in the city — Reform of government — Michael di Lando 
Benedetto Alberti — Coming of Louis of Anjou — The Florentines purchase 
Arezzo — Benedetto Alberti — His discourse — Other citizens banished — 
War with Giovanni Galeazzo, duke of Milan . . 143 

Chap. VII. — Maso degli Albizzi— Veri de' Medici — Conspiracy supported 
by the duke of Milan — Taking of Pisa — War with the king of Naples — 
Acquisition of Cortona . . . .149 

Chap. I. — Licence and Slavery — Giovanni di Bicci de' Medici — Filippo 

Visconti — War declared — The Florentines routed . 157 

Chap. II. — Rinaldo degli Albizzi — Restoration of the Grandi — Niccolo 

da Uzzano . . . . .163 

Chap. III. — Giovanni de' Medici acquires favour — Bravery of Biaggio del 

Melano — Baseness of Zanobi del Pino — League with the Venetians — 

Origin of the Catasto — Peace with the duke of Milan . 168 

Chap. IV. — Death of Giovanni de' Medici — Insurrection of Volterra — 

Niccolo Fortebraccio — War with Lucca — Astorre Gianni and Rinaldo 

degli Albizzi . . . . . 1 74 

Cii.vp. V.— Seravezza appeals to the Signory — Filippo Brunelleschi — 

The duke of Milan sends Francesco Sforza — Pagolo Guinigi . 1 81 
Chap. VI. — Cosmo de' Medici — His greatness excites jealousy — Niccolo 

da Uzano — Bernardo Guadagni, Gonfalonier— Cosmo arrested 188 

Chap. VII. — Cosmo banished to Padua — New disturbances occasioned by 

Rinaldo degli Albizzi — Pope Eugenius in Florence — Cosmo recalled — 

Rinaldo and his party banished — Glorious return of Cosmo . 195 


Chap. I. — Of empires — State of Italy— Factions of Sforza and Braccio — 
The pope is expelled by the Romans . . . 2<fi 

Chap. II. — Death of Giovanna II. — Rene" of Anjou and Alfonso of Arra- 
gon — Alfonso obtains the friendship of the duke of Milan — Divisions 
amongst the Genoese — League against the duke of Milan — Rinaldo 
degli Albizzi — Niccolo Piccinino before Barga . . 209 

Chap. III.— The Florentines go to war with Lucca — Discourse of a citizen 

of Lucca — Francesco Sforza — Cosmo de' Medici at Venice — Peace be- 

- v tween the Florentines and the Lucchese — The pope consecrates the 

cilia eh of Santa Reparata — Council of Florence . .217 


hap. IV. — New wars in Italy — Niccolo Piccinino deceives the pope ^.nd 

takes many places from the church — Attacks the Venetians- 1 

the Florentines — The Venetians request assistance from the Florentines 

and of Sforza — League against the duke of Milan — Neri di Gino Cap- 

poni at Venice . . . N^'J.p 

'•ap. V. — Francesco Sforza marches to assist the Venetians — T 

, lians routed by Piccinino — Piccinino routed by Sforza — Surpris< 

' — Recovered by Sforza — The duke of Milan makes war against i y» 1469, 

routines — Cardinal Vitelleschi their enemy . "• Hia 

Chap. VI. — The pope assists the Florentines — Niccolo Piccinino & traced 

cany — He takes Marradi — Cowardice of Bartolomeo Orlandini^. The 

/ resistance of Castel San Niccolo . . . f citizens 

/ Chap. VII. — Brescia relieved by Sforza— Piccinino is re-called int ous an- 

bardy — Is routed before Anghiari — Death of Rinaldo degli Albiz in g the 

BOOK VI. J rs - of 

Chap. I. — Niccolo reinforces his army — The Venetians acquire Ravemhest 
The Florentines purchase the Borgo San Sepolcro of the pope — '1 
insolence of Niccolo Piccinino — The duke makes peace with the leagu- 
— Sforza assisted by the Florentines . . .254 

Chap. II. — Baldaccio d'Anghiari murdered — Sforza and Piccinino — 'Death 
of Piccinino — End of the war — Annibale Bentivoglio slain by Battista — 
Canneschi — Santi Bentivoglio is called to govern the city of Bologna — 
Discourse of Cosmo de' Medici to him — General war in Italy . "262 J 

Chap. III. — Death of Filippo Visconti — Milan becomes a republic — The / 
pope endeavours to restore peace to Italy — Alfonso attacks the Flo* 
rentines — Scarcity in the Florentine camp— Alfonso sues for peace — 
Pavia surrenders — The Venetians routed by the count . . 269 

Chap. IV. — The count's successes — League of the Venetians and Mi'anese 
— The count dupes them — He applies for assistance to the Florentines — 
Neri di Gino Capponi — Cosmo de' Medici — The Florentines send am- 
bassadors to the count . . . . .277 

Chap. V. — Prosecution of the war between the count and the Milanese — 
League between the new duke of Milan and the Florentines — Venetian 
and Neapolitan ambassadors at Florence — Answer of Cosmo de' Medici 
to the Venetian ambassador — Florence prepares for — The emperor, 
Frederick III., r' Florence .... 284 

Chap. VI. — Conspiracy of Stefano Porcari against the papal government — 
Gallant conduct of Antonio Gualandi — Rene of Anjou is called into 
Italy by the Florentines— The pope endeavours to restore peace — Peace 
proclaimed . . . . .292 

Chap. VII. — Christendom alarmed by the progress of the Turks — The 
Turks routed — Remarkable hurricane — Death of Alfonso, king of Naples 
—Eulogy of Pius II. .... 299 


Chap. I. — Connexion of the other Italian governments with the history of 
Florence — Cosmo de' Medici and Neri Capponi become powerful by 
dissimilar means— Luca Pitti, Gonfalonier of Justice— Tyranny and 



^iap. I. — Domestic discords of republics — Rome and Florence — The 
Ricci and Albizzi — Uguccione — Piero 

Chap. II. — War against the pope's legate — The Capitani di Parte — Sal- 
vestro de Medici Gonfalonier . . . 118 

Chap. III. — Measures adopted by the magistrates to effect a pacification — 
Luigi Guicciardini — The woollen art — Speech of a plebeian . 124 

Chap. IV.— Proceedings of the plebeians — They insist that the Signory 
leave the palace — Michele di Lando Gonfalonier . 131 

Chap. V. — New regulations for elections of the Signory — Confusion in the 
city— Piero degli Albizzi and others condemned — Approach of Charles 
of Durazzo — Giorgio Scali — Benedetto Alberti — Giorgio beheaded 138 

Chap. VI. — Riots in the city — Reform of government — Michael di Lando 
Benedetto Alberti — Coming of Louis of Anjou — The Florentines purchase 
Arezzo — Benedetto Alberti — His discourse — Other citizens banished — 
War with Giovanni Galeazzo, duke of Milan . . 143 

Chap. VII. — Maso degli Albizzi— Veri de' Medici — Conspiracy supported 
by the duke of Milan — Taking of Pisa — War with the king of Naples — 
Acquisition of Cortona .... 149 

Chap. I. — Licence and Slavery — Giovanni di Bicci de' Medici — Filippo 

Visconti — War declared — The Florentines routed . 157 

Chap. II. — Rinaldo degli Albizzi — Restoration of the Grandi — Niccolo 

da Uzzano ..... 163 

Chap. III. — Giovanni de' Medici acquires favour — Bravery of Biaggio del 

Melano — Baseness of Zanobi del Pino — League with the Venetians — 

Origin of the Catasto — Peace with the duke of Milan . 168 

Chap. IV. — Death of Giovanni de' Medici — Insurrection of Volterra — 

Niccolo Fortebraccio — War with Lucca — Astorre Gianni and Rinaldo 

degli Albizzi . . . . 3 74 

Ch^p. V. — Seravezza appeals to the Signory — Filippo Brunelleschi — 

The duke of Milan sends Francesco Sforza — Pagolo Guinigi . 1 81 
Chap. VI. — Cosmo de' Medici — His greatness excites jealousy — Niccolo 

da Uzano — Bernardo Guadagni, Gonfalonier— Cosmo arrested 1P.8 

Chap. VII. — Cosmo banished to Padua — New disturbances occasioned by 

Rinaldo degli Albizzi — Pope Eugenius in Florence — Cosmo recalled — 

Rinaldo and his party banished — Glorious return of Cosmo . 195 


Chap. I. — Of empires — State of Italy— Factions of Sforza and Braccio — 
The pope is expelled by the Romans . . . 202 

Chap. II. — Death of Giovanna II. — Rene" of Anjou and Alfonso of Arra- 
gon — Alfonso obtains the friendship of the duke of Milan — Divisions 
amongst the Genoese — League against the duke of Milan — Rinaldo 
degli Albizzi — Niccolo Piccinino before Barga . . 209 

Chap. III.— The Florentines go to war with Lucca — Discourse of a citizen 

of Lucca — Francesco Sforza — Cosmo de' Medici at Venice — Peace be- 

-- , t\veen the Florentines and the Lucchese — The pope consecrates the 

ciufieh of Santa Reparata — Council of Florence . .217 



i!ap. IV. — New wars in Italy — Niccolo Piccinino deceives the pope and 

takes many places from the church — Attacks the Venetians — Fears of 

the Florentines — The Venetians request assistance from the Florentines 

and of Sforza — League against the duke of Milan — Neri di Gino Cap- 

poni at Venice 

H ,'ap. V. — Francesco Sforza marches to assist the Venetians — T 

] tians routed by Piccinino — Piccinino routed by Sforza — Surprise 

' — Recovered by Sforza — The duke of Milan makes war against 9i J4G9, 

lvntines — Cardinal Vitelleschi their enemy . CI * His 

CfiAP. VI. — The pope assists the Florentines— Niccolo Piccinino ^ traced 

cany — He takes Marradi — Cowardice of Bartolomeo Orlandini^- The 

j resistance of Castel San Niccolo f cit ^en.s 

Ckap. VII. — Brescia relieved by Sforza— Piccinino is re-called im ous an- 

bardy— Is routed before Anghiari — Death of Rinaldo degli Albiz in g the 

BOOK VI. J r - of 

Chap. I. — Niccolo reinforces his army — The Venetians acquire Ravemhest 
The Florentines purchase the Borgo San Sepolcro of the pope — '1 
insolence of Niccolo Piccinino — The duke makes peace with the leagu- 
— Sforza assisted by the Florentines . . . 254 

Chap. II. — Ba'daccio d* Anghiari murdered — Sforza and Piccinino — Death 
of Piccinino — End of the war — Annibale Bentivoglio slain by Battista — 
Canneschi — Santi Bentivoglio is called to govern the city of Bologna — 
Discourse of Cosmo de' Medici to him — General war in Italy . 262 J 

Chap. III. — Death of Filippo Visconti — Milan becomes a republic — The / 
pope endeavours to restore peace to Italy — Alfonso attacks the Flo- 
rentines — Scarcity in the Florentine camp— Alfonso sues for peace — 
Pavia surrenders — The Venetians routed by the count . . 269 

Chap. IV. — The count's successes — League of the Venetians and Milanese 
— The count dupes them — He applies for assistance to the Florentines — 
Neri di Gino Capponi — Cosmo de' Medici — The Florentines send am- 
bassadors to the count . . . . .277 

Chap. V. — Prosecution of the war between the count and the Milanese — 
League between the new duke of Milan and the Florentines — Venetian 
and Neapolitan ambassadors at Florence — Answer of Cosmo de' Medici 
to the Venetian ambassador — Florence prepares for war — The emperor, 
Frederick III., r Florence .... 284 

Chap. VI. — Conspiracy of Stefano Porcari against the papal government — 
Gallant conduct of Antonio Gualandi — Rene of Anjou is called into 
Italy by the Florentines— The pope endeavours to restore peace — Peace 
proclaimed . . . . .292 

Chap. VII. — Christendom alarmed by the progress of the Turks — The 
Turks routed — Remarkable hurricane — Death of Alfonso, king of Naples 
—Eulogy of Pius II. .... 299 

Chap. I. — Connexion of the other Italian governments with the history of 
Florence — Cosmo de' Medici and Neri Capponi become powerful by 
dissimilar means— Luca Pitti, Gonfalonier of Justice— Tyranny and 



pride of Luca Pitti and his party — Death of Cosmo de' Medici . 30l 
Chap. II. — The duke of Milan becomes lord of Genoa — Jacopo Piccininq 
murdered — Fruitless endeavours of Pius II. to excite Christendoi 
against the Turks — Death of Francesco Sforza — Conspiracy of Diotisalv] 
an Withers against Piero . . . 3ii 

tec I. —Niccolo Soderini drawn Gonfalonier of Justice — Reform 

T. — Mement in favour of Piero de' Medici — Fall of Luca Pitti — Lettc 

Tgi Guiccisnolo Acciajuoli to Piero de' Medici — Piero's answer . ,'r2\ 

Chap. IV. — PrV. — War between the Venetians and the Florentines — Peace re\ 

leave the palished — Death of Niccolo Soderini — Accession of Sixtus IV. 
Chap. V. — NeAnaso Soderini declares himself in favour of the Medici . 3311 
city —Piero ". — Corruption of Florence — The duke of Milan in Florence — The\ 
of Durazzo-h of Santo Spirito destroyed by fire — Rebellion of Volterra 338 
Chap. VI. — PVT. — Animosity between Sixtus IV. and Lorenzo de' Medici — Con- 
Benedetto, acy against Galeazzo, duke of Milan — He is slain . 344 

wS3?" . BOOK VIII. 

Chap. VJap. I. — State of the family of the Medici at Florence — Enmity of Six- 
ty tip tus IV. towards Florence .... 352 
AcciChap. II. — Giuliano de' Medici slain — Lorenzo escapes — The pope and the 
king of Naples make war upon the Florentines — Florence excommuni- 
cated — Speech of Lorenzo de' Medici . . . 359 
"H Chap. III. — The Florentines prepare for war against the pope — The Flo- 
i rentines repulse then: enemies — They attack the papal states . 3G7 
\ Chap. IV. — The duke of Calabria routs the Florentine army at Poggi- 
bonzi — Lorenzo de' Medici goes to Naples to treat with the king — Peace 
concluded with the king . . . .373 
Chap. V. — New occasions of war in Italy — Differences between the mar- 
quis of Ferrara and the Venetians — The king of Naples and the Flo- 
rentines attack the papal states — Lodovico Sforza . . 382 
Chap. VI. — Affairs of the pope — He is reconciled to Niccolo Vitelli — The 
Colonnesi and the Orsini — Death of Sixtus IV. — Innocent VIII. elected 
— Bank of St. Giorgio — The Lucchese lay claim to Pietro Santa 
Chap. VII. — The pope becomes attached to the Florentines — The Geno- 
ese seize Serezanello — Genoa submits to the duke of Milan — Osimo re- 
volts from the "hurch — Count Girolamo Riario slain by a conspiracy — 
C Galeotto, lord of Faenza, is murdered by the treachery of his wife — 
Death of Lorenzo de' Medici — Establishment of his family — The univer- 
sity of Pisa — The estimation of Lorenzo by other princes 396 


Different kinds of principalities — Of hereditary principalities — Of mixed 
principalities, 6cc. ..... 407 

APPENDIX — 1. Savonarola— 2. Murder of Vitellozzo, Vitelli, and 
others, by Caesar Borgia — 3. To rise from a middling station, &c. — 4. To 
Francisco Vettori — 5. On neutrality — 6. Instructions to Raphael Giro- 
lami — 7. Of fortune, chance, providence — 8. He that would wish for 
success must act in unison with the times . . . 488 

-. . U (. 
cfraich oi 


Niccolo Machiavelli was born at Florence, on the 5th of May, 1469, 
being the last year of the mild administration of Piero de' Medici. His 
family was descended from the ancient marquesses of Tuscany, and traced 
its origin more especially to a marquis Ugo, who flourished about 850. The 
Machiavelli were lords of Montespertoli; but, preferring the rank of citizens 
of a prosperous city to the unprofitable preservation of an illustrious an- 
cestry, they submitted to the laws of Florence, for the sake of enjoying the 
honours which the republic had to bestow. Thirteen times they enjoyed 
the rank of Gonfaloniere of Justice,* and fifty-three different members of 
the family were at various times elected priors,t another of the highest 
offices of government. 

Bernardo Machiavelli, the father of Niccolo, was jurisconsult and trea- 
surer of the march; and by aid of these offices he maintained, in some 
degree, the lustre of his family, which was obscured by the poverty into 
which it had fallen. His wife Bartolomea, daughter of Stefano Nelli, was 
equally well descended ; her family being derived from the ancient counts 
of Borgonuovo, of Fucecchio, who flourished in the tenth century. She 
had been previously married to Niccolo Benizzi, and was distinguished for 
her cultivated understanding and poetic talent. 

But little is known of the education of Machiavelli. During his 
childhood Florence was distracted by the various tumults and struggles 
occasioned by the party that sought to prevent the success-ion of Giuliano 
and Lorenzo de' Medici, which at length were terminated by the unsuc- 
cessful conspiracy of the Pazzi before Machiavelli had completed his tenth 
year. The remainder of his youth was passed under the popular govern- 
ment of Lorenzo de' Medici ; but the first years of his manhood had 
scarcely expired before the death of Lorenzo again exposed Florence to 
internal jealousies and foreign ambition. It will thus be readily perceived 
that Machiavelli could not have commenced his political career at a moment 
which required more arduous duties or a greater share of energy and skill. 
Having received a liberal education, he was placed as secretary in the office 
of Marcello di Virgilio de' Adriani, one of the chief officers of the Floren- 
tine court of chancery, whose pupil he had formerly been. There is no 
trace of his taking any part in the political disturbances of this time. 
Florence was then agitated by the preaching of Savonarola, concerning 
whom there is an account still extant given by Machiavelli in a 
letter, dated May 8, 1497. (See Appendix A, page 488). Five }ears 
passed away in the quiet fulfilment of his duties, during which none of his 
writings were composed. He must, however, have distinguished himself 

* Vide page 61. t Vide page CO. 


by his talents, for when, at the expiration of that period, his employer, 
Marcello, was elected high chancellor, Machiavelli was chosen from among 
four other competitors to the office of chancellor of the second court ; and 
in the course of the following month he was named secretary to the Council 
of Ten, a board entrusted with the management of foreign affairs and diplo- 
matic negotiations, which situation he held for fourteen years, when the 
return of the Medici to Florence overthrew the government he served. 

In this position the political genius of Machiavelli was rapidly developed, 
and his abilities and penetration being soon perceived by his superiors, he 
was successively employed on several missions, many of which were of the 
utmost importance. The first was in 1498, when he was sent to Jacopo 
Apiani, lord of Piombino, for the purpose of engaging him to join the 
Florentine troops which were besieging Pisa, whilst their general Vitelli de- 
fended the Florentine territory against the Venetians, who were making 
incursions from the borders of Romagna, assisted by the emigrant partizans 
of the Medici In the following year, 1499, he was despatched to Catharine 
Sforza, countess of Forli, in order to make arrangements for her son Otta- 
viano to engage as condottiero in the service of the republic. In 1500 he 
was employed as a commissioner to the Florentine camp before Pisa, and 
was present at the arrival of a body of French and Swiss auxiliary troops 
under De Beaumont, sent by Louis XII., who had just re-conquered Lom- 
bardy, and had formed an alliance with Florence. Dissensions, however, 
rose between the allies, concerning the pay of the auxiliaries. The Swiss 
mutinied and insulted Luca degli Albizzi, one of the Florentine commis- 
sioners ; and the French, under the pretence of a delay of pay, abandoned 
the attack against Pisa. The king of France accused Florence of being 
the cause of this affront sustained by his arms; and to appease him, and 
obtain if possible further assistance, the republic deputed Francesco della 
Caza and Machiavelli as envoys to the French court. This was a very 
delicate mission. Louis XII. and his minister, Cardinal dAmboise, were 
prejudiced against the Florentines, and had an interest in favouring the 
Borgias, who at that time threatened Florence. Machiavelli and his fellow 
envoy remained in Florence three months, following the king and his court 
to Montargis, Melun, Plenis, and Tours. They were faithful and indus- 
trious in their duties, more especially Machiavelli, as Francesco della Caza 
was taken ill, and compelled to spend the greater portion of hi3 time at Paris. 
They failed in their object; yet, by dint of much skilful management, of fair 
promises and professions, and of timely suggestions, they left Louis better 
disposed towards Florence than they had found him, and made him watchful 
and jealous of the movements of Cagsar Borgia. This jealousy proved the 
salvation of the Florentines; for when the ferocious and unprincipled 
Borgia entered Tuscany a few months after, with eight thousand men, and 
encamped near Florence, the French king sent him letters forbidding him 
to molest the republic. 

In 1 502, Machiavelli was sent on a mission to Caesar Borgia, also called 
Duke Valentino, who was then at Imola in Bologna. Borgia had just re- 
turned from Lombardy, where he had endeavoured to clear himself to 
Louis XII. from the charge of having countenanced the revolt of Arezzo 
and other places in the Vale de Chiana against the Florentines. During 
his absence there, his own friends and former colleagues, Vitellozzo Vitelli, 


Oliverotto da Fermo, Baglioni of Perugia, and the Orsini had taken alarm 
at his ambition and cruelty, and entered into a secret league with Benti- 
voglio of Bologna and Petrucci of Sienna, who were his declared enemies, 
and invited the Florentines to join them. The latter, however, held an 
old pique against Vitelli and the Orsini, and moreover were afraid of in- 
curring the displeasure of France, who protected Borgia, they therefore not 
only refused to join them, but sent Machiavelli to make professions of 
friendship and offers of assistance to the duke, and at the same time to 
watch his movements, to discover his real intentions (which was not an easy 
thing, for Borgia was the closest man of his age), and endeavour to obtain 
something in return for their friendship. The account of this mission is 
extremely curious ; there was deep dissimulation on both sides. Borgia 
hated Florence as much as the Florentines hated him ; but they were both 
kept in check by the fear of France, and both Borgia and Machiavelli 
made the fairest and apparently the most candid professions towards each 
other. Borgia even assumed a confidential tone, and began to tell Machia- 
velli of the treachery of his former friends ; he added, that he knew how 
to deal with them, and was only waiting for his own time ; he also expa- 
tiated on his well-disciplined forces, his artillery, and the assistance he 
expected from France ; and all this in order to persuade the Florentines 
of the great value of his friendship, and that they should give him a con- 
dotta, that is to say, the chief command in their army. 

Borgia, however, had to do with a negotiator who, though young, was a 
match for him. " 1 answered," says Machiavelli, in the twenty-first letter 
of that mission, " that his excellency the duke must not be compared to 
the generality of other Italian lords, but he must be considered as a 
new potentate in Italy, with whom it is more fit and becoming to make a 
treaty of alliance than a mere condotta or mercenary convention. And I 
added that as alliances are maintained by arms, which are the only binding 
security for either party, your lordships (the magistrates of Florence) could 
not see what security there would be for them if three-fourths or three- 
fifths of your forces were to be in the hands of the duke." Still the nego- 
tiations went on about the condotta, whilst Borgia was meditating another 
stroke of his usual policy. Machiavelli had a foretaste of it at Cesena, 
where a certain Rimino, a confidential agent of Borgia, and, as such, 
hateful to the people, was suddenly arrested by order of his master, and 
the next morning (on the 26th of December) was found in the middle of 
the square cut into two pieces. " Such," says Machiavelli, " has been the 
duke's pleasure, for he wishes to show that he can do and undo his own men 
as he thinks proper." On the last day of December, Borgia, followed by 
Machiavelli, marched with his troops to Sinigaglia, where the Orsini, Vitel- 
lozzo, and Oliverotto were waiting for him, to have a conference and settle 
matters. As soon as his troops had entered the town he arrested those 
chief's, strangled two of them that very night, and kept the Orsini in prison 
until he heard that his father, the pope, had secured the person of their 
relative Cardinal Orsini at Rome, after which they also were put to death. 
On the same night Borgia sent for Machiavelli, and said that he had done 
a great service to Florence in ridding the world of those men who were the 
sowers of discord. He then expressed his wish to attack Sienna and re- 
venge himself on Petrucci ; but the Florentines, being cautioned by 


Machiavelli, took measures to thwart his plans, and Petrucci was saved. 
Machiavelli returned to Florence in January, 1503, after three eventful 
months passed in the court and camp of Borgia, which was the most com- 
plete school of that policy which he afterwards illustrated in his treatise of 
" The Prince." His letters (fifty-two in number), written during that 
mission, have a certain dramatic character which awakens feelings of sur- 
prise, terror, and intense curiosity. 

Machiavelli wrote a detached report of the Sinigaglia tragedy, for a trans- 
lation of which see Appendix B, page 491.* He obtained one thing from 
Borgia by this mission, viz. a free passage through Romagna to all Flo- 
rentine travellers and merchants, and their goods and other property. 

On the 28th of August, 1503, Alexander VI. died, and his successor, 
Pius III., died a few days after. A new conclave being assembled in Oc- 
tober, the Florentines sent Machiavelli to Rome, where he was present at 
the election of Julius II., and soon after witnessed the fall of Caesar 
Borgia, who was arrested at Ostia by order of the pope, and all his ill- 
gotten dominions were taken from him. His troops, in passing through 
Tuscany, were disarmed and disbanded agreeably to Machiavelli's secret 

In January, 1504, Machiavelli was sent to France to rouse Louis XII. 
to the danger threatening both Florence and the state of Milan from the 
Spaniards, who were advancing from Naples towards North Italy. The 
truce between France and Spain put an end to this mission. 

After several minor missions to Piombino, to Baglioni of Perugia, 
Petrucci of Sienna, and the duke of Mantua, Machiavelli was sent, in 
August, 1506, to Pope Julius II., whom he met on his march to dispossess 

* No part of Machiavelli's political career has given rise to so much misrepresenta- 
tion as his embassy to the Duke Valentino, on the occasion of his rupture with Vi- 
telozzo, Oliverotto, and the Orsini. The reader who confines his examination of this 
period to the narrations of Roscoe and some other modern historians, will be led to 
concur in the darkest views of the character of Machiavelli. An attentive perusal of 
the original documents will lead to a very different conclusion. The perilous situation 
of the Florentine republic exerted at this moment a peculiar influence upon her po- 
licy ; and the friendship of Borgia and of Alexander, instead of forming a question of 
general interest or of probable advantage, could easily decide the destruction or pre- 
servation of the state. It was under such circumstances that Machiavelli was des- 
patched to the court of Borgia. The history of his embassy is fully detailed in his 
official correspondence ; but the master-piece of treachery by which Borgia secured 
his vengeance upon greater villains than himself, is also related in the letter in the 
Appendix, which originally either formed a part of the despatches, or was prepared 
like the other historical fragments, to be interwoven in the continuation of the Flo- 
rentine histories. That Machiavelli, far from assisting to devise the treachery of Bor- 
gia, had no knowledge of his intentions with regard to Vitelozzo and his associates, 
is evident from the whole course of his letters. It appears from these, that the duke 
never confided his plans even to his favourite counsellors ; that his probable conduct 
was, on this occasion, a subject of general conjecture ; Machiavelli gives his own, ard 
inclines to suspect the seeming reconciliation of Borgia and his enemies. It appears 
also that Borgia, instead of seeking the advice of Machiavelli, never admitted him 
to an audience, except when new despatches from Florence rendered it impossible 
to refuse, and the conversation at these interviews is fully related. 

They who blame him for not having returned immediately upon the discovery of 
Borgia's crime, apart from the new principle which they establish for ambassadors, 
fall into two errors: they fcrget that he had repeatedly solicited a recall, and been 
ordered to remain ; secondly, that the state of roads rendered all passing difficult 
and dangerous, — some of his own dispatches were lost, — and there was no possibi- 
iitj of his escaping to Florence. 


Baglioni of Perugia and Bentivoglio of Bologna, whither the Florentine 
envoy followed him, and returned in October. He then wrote " Prowisione 
per istituire Milizie Nazionali nella Republica Florentina." He had 
always blamed the employment of mercenary troops and condottieri, which 
was an old custom of the Florentines. 

In December, 1507, Machiavelli was sent to the Emperor Maximilian 
in Germany, who had signified his intention of going to Italy to be ciowned, 
and had demanded money of the Florentines. He proceeded by Geneva 
and Constance, where, finding that the emperor had moved southwards by 
the Tyrol, he followed him to Bolzano. The Venetians, however, opposed 
the passage of Maximilian, and Machiavelli returned to Florence in June, 
1503. On his return he wrote several reports on the affairs of Germany, 
besides the letters which he had sent home during his mission. 

In February, 1509, he was sent to the camp before Pisa, which was again 
besieged by the Florentines, and he thence addressed a report on the state 
of affairs : " Discorso fatto al Magistrato dei Dieci sulle cose di Pisa." In 
June of that year Pisa surrendered, through famine. 

In July, 1510, Machiavelli was sent to France. The Cardinal d'Am- 
boise was lately dead. The object of this mission was to encourage the 
French count to maintain the alliance with the pope and the emperor 
against the Venetians (the league of Cambrai), and to induce Louis to pre- 
vent the Swiss from enlisting in great numbers in the service of the pope, 
for fear that Julius, feeling himself too independent, should take some new 
whim into his head. And this in reality happened soon after, for while 
Machiavelli was in France, Julius formed a league to drive the French out 
of Italy. In September, 1510, Machiavelli returned to Florence, having 
consolidated the alliance of France with the republic. 

In September, 1511, Machiavelli was sent again to France, concerning 
the council which assembled at Pisa, by order of Louis XII., to try and 
depose Pope Julius, which council however broke up without effecting any 
thing. Machiavelli fell ill, and soon returned home. In 1512 the battle 
of Ravenna was fought, Gaston de Foix was killed, and the French lost 
Italy. Julius, who was irritated against Florence for having sided with the 
French, engaged the Spanish viceroy of Naples to send a body of troops 
against it. and re-establish the Medici by force. The catastrophe took place 
soon after. 

The confidence and favour with which Machiavelli Avas viewed by his 
government are evident from the free recourse that was had to his ser- 
vices upon all important occasions. Scarcely had he returned from one 
embassy when he was directed to prepare for another, and negotiations of 
great consequence with foreign powers were followed by difficult and confi- 
dential commissions within the territories of the republic. In this succes- 
sion of active duties, fourteen years of his life passed rapidly away; but at 
length a new storm began to gather above the devoted walls of Florence, 
and the timid and vascillating policy of Piero Soderini, who had been elected 
Gonfalonier for life, drew down upon his country and himself the ruin that 
firmness and energy might have easily averted. The government by which 
Machiavelli had been employed was overthrown by the arms of Spain, and 
in September, 1512, the family of the Medici, like the Bourbons of our 
own days, returned to their native walls under the protection of a foreign ally. 


No sooner was the new government firmly established than it commenced 
the usual train of persecutions against the partisans of the old. Three de- 
crees were passed against Machiavelli within the course of ten days. By 
the two first he was deprived of office, and condemned to a year's banish- 
ment from the Florentine territory; but by the third, the sentence of ban- 
ishment was commuted to a simple prohibition from entering the " public 
palace." Fear and suspicion followed the secretary into his retirement, and 
when in the course of the following year (1513), an extensive conspiracy 
against the Medici was accidently discovered, he was immediately arrested 
and put to the torture, which was at that period indiscriminately em- 
ployed under all the Italian governments in examining persons accused of 
state crimes. Six shocks of the cord were inflicted upon Machiavelli with 
fruitless cruelty, and not a word escaped him in the bitterness of his agony 
that could be wrested into a confession of guilt, or serve as an accusation 
against others. Unable to convict him, they could still torment; and ac- 
cordingly, buried in the depths of a loathsome dungeon, his lacerated body 
closely bound with chains, and his mind distracted by the cries of misery 
and of degradation that reached him from every side, he was left to the long 
torture of solitude and suspense. Here also his fortitude remained un- 
shaken, and his noble power of patient endurance baffled the snares of his 
adversaries and wearied their malignity. From his prison of Le Stinche, 
he wrote a sonnet to Giuliano de ( Medici, who was then governor of Florence, 
his brother Giovanni having gone to the conclave at Rome, where he was 
elected pope by the name of Leo X. This sonnet, though written for the 
avowed purpose of exciting his interest, breathes an elevated and independ- 
ent tone, and contains a degree of humorous expostulation and description 
which could not have proceeded from a mind broken or humbled by mis- 
fortune. At length the friends whose affection he had gained during the 
days of his prosperity, gave, in these moments of trial, the surest testimony 
to his worth and their own sincerity; and several lucky circumstances com- 
bining to favour their exertions, he was restored to freedom. 

It was not, however, to return to his favourite occupations that Machia- 
velli issued from his dungeon, for he now withdrew for several years from 
public life, and retired to his country-house, at San Casciano, about eight 
miles from Florence. Here a long course of bitter trial still awaited him; 
poverty with its anxious schemes and depressing cares, the excitements of 
hope, the bitterness of repeated disappointment, and, more than all, the 
restless movements of a mind that nature had formed for constant exertion, 
and long habit had rendered incapable of repose. But the resources that 
his fortune denied, were, in part supplied by his own exertions. Anxious 
to open a way of return to public life, on which he depended not only for en- 
joyment, but for the means of support, he composed his treatise called " The 
Prince," in which he had endeavoured to embody the results of his observa- 
tions upon the governments of his own times, and of his study of the political 
doctrines of the ancients. This celebrated treatise was not intended for publi- 
cation, but was written for the private perusal, first of Giuliano, and then of 
Lorenzo de' Medici, afterwards duke of Urbino, son of Piero, and grandson of 
Lorenzo the Magnificent, who was appointed by his uncle, Leo X., governor 
of Florence, his uncle, Giuliano having removed to Rome. It was first pub- 
lished, after Machiavelli's death, at Rome, 1532, under the sanction of Pope 


Clement III. Perhaps no work in ltterary history has occasioned more con- 
troversy, or rendered the name of its author more generally odious than 
this celebrated treatise. The terms' in which Machiavelli has been com- 
monly described since this work has been given to the world, " would seem," 
says Macaulay,* " to impart that he was the tempter, the evil principle, 
the discoverer of ambition and revenge, the original inventor of perjury, 
and that, before the publication of his fatal * Prince,' there had never been a 
hypocrite, a tyrant, or a traitor, a simulated virtue, or a convenient crime. 
One writer gravely assures us that Maurice of Saxony learned all his fraudu- 
lent policy from that execrable volume. Another remarks, that since it 
was transcribed into Turkish, the sultans have been more addicted than 
formerly to the custom of strangling their brothers. Lord Lyttleton charges 
the poor Florentine with the manifold treasons of the house of Guise, and 
with the massacre of St. Bartholomew. Several authors have hinted that 
the gunpowder plot is to be primarily attributed to his doctrines, and seem 
to think that his effigy ought to be instituted for that of Guy Faux, in those 
processions by which the ingenuous youth of England annually commemo- 
rate the preservation of the three estates. The church of Rome has pro- 
nounced his works accursed things. Nor have our own countrymen been 
backward in testifying their opinion of his merits. Out of his sirname they 
have coined an epithet for a knave, and out of his Christian name, a syno- 
nyine for the devil. + 

" It is indeed scarcely possible for any person, not well acquainted with 
the history and literature of Italy, to read without horror and amazement 
the celebrated treatise which has brought so much obloquy on the name of 
Machiavelli. Such a display of wickedness, naked, yet not ashamed, such 
cool, judicious, scientific atrocity, seemed rather to belong to a fiend than to 
tho most depraved of men. Principles which the most hardened ruffian 
would scarcely hint to his most trusted accomplice, or avow, without the 
disguise of some palliating sophism, even to his own mind, are professed 
without the slightest circumlocution, and assumed as the fundamental axioms 
of all political science. 

" It is not strange that ordinary readers should regard the author of 
such a book as the most depraved and shameless of human beings. Wise 
men, however, have always been inclined to look with great suspicion on 
4 he angels and demons of the multitude; and, in the present instance, seve- 
ral circumstances have led even superficial observers to question the justice 
of the vulgar decision. It is notorious that Machiavelli was through life a 
zealous republican. In the same year in which he composed his manual 
of king-craft, he suffered imprisonment and torture in the cause of public 
liberty. It seems inconceivable that the martyr of freedom should have 
designedly acted as the apostle of tyranny. Several eminent writers have, 
therefore, endeavoured to detect in this unfortunate performance some con- 
cealed meaning, more consistent with the character and conduct of the 
author than that which appears at first glance." 

* Critical and Historical Essays, vol. i. 

t " Nick Machiavel had ne'er a trick, 

Tho' ho gave his name to our Old Nick." 

Iladibras, Part iii. Canto i. 
But wo believe there is a schism on this subject among the antiquaries. 


We cannot, however, here enter upon all the various hypotheses which 
have been raised respecting the origin of the Prince; but the most reason- 
able one appears to be a desire on the part of the author to obtain some 
public employment under the Medici government. 

Machiavelli, in a letter discovered only in 1810, and addressed to his 
friend Vittori, then at Rome, 10th December, 1513, mentioTrs-thi^treatisa 
on which he was then engaged, and tells him that he wishes to showHo the 
Medici "that he had not spent the fifteen years in which he had studied 
the art of government in sleeping or playing, so that they might think of 
employing a man who had acquired experience at the expense of others ;" 
and he adds, " I wish that these signori Medici would employ me, were it 
only in rolling a stone. They ought not to doubt my fidelity. My poverty 
is a testimony of it." These expressions show clearly enough that 
Machiavelli's object in writing the " Principe " was to recommend himself 
to the Medici. All the ingenious surmises of later critics about his wishing 
to render absolute princes odious to the people, or to induce the Medici, by 
following his precepts, to render themselves insupportable, and thus bring 
about their own fall and the restoration of the republic, are completely 
overthrown. Machiavelli saw clearly enough that the Medici were too 
firmly seated at Florence to be dislodged, and although he was himself 
partial to a rational system of civil liberty, if consistent with a strong 
government, he was still more attached to the national honour and inde- 
pendence of his country ; and what he dreaded most was, that, through 
some rash ebullitions of party spirit, foreigners might be enabled to interfere 
and enslave Florence, as they had enslaved Lombardy and Naples. 

The object for which Machiavelli had thus written failed, but a nobler 
end was obtained. He had commenced the train of thought which was to 
lead him to the discovery of many important truths, and his active mind 
could not rest on the threshold of the temple it had opened. Step by step 
he was led on to a more attentive examination of his principles, new truths 
were discovered, some erroneous views were brought out in their true light 
by wider application and more exact comparison, and the undertaking 
which had originated in a strong desire for public life, became the chief 
source of his enjoyments, and was continued with regular and progressive 
improvement until the last moment of his existence. In a letter to Vittori, 
after giving a humorous description of the manner in which he passed hia 
time in his country-house — of his snaring thrushes, cutting wood, and playing 
at cricca and tric-trac with a butcher, miller, and two kiln men, he says, 
" but when evening comes I return home, and shut myself up in my study. 
Before I make my appearance in it, I take off my rustic garb, soiled with 
mud and dirt, and put on a dress adapted for courts or cities. Thus fitly 
habited I enter the antique resorts of the ancients ; where, being kindly 
received, I feed on that food which alone is mine, and for which I was 
born. For an interval of four hours I feel no annoyance ; I forget every 
grief, I neither fear poverty nor death, but am totally immersed." 

In 1516 Machiavelli wrote his Discourses on the first ten books of Livy, 
and about the same time he composed his Art of War. These studies, 
however, were not sufficient to furnish constant occupation for a spirit like 
his, and the intervals of severe labour were partly filled up with the com- 
position of his Comedies, Translations, and various lighter pieces, both in 


prose and verse. But many moments still remained, which for a mind that 
sought relief in a variation of duties rather than in actual repose, were 
wearisome blanks in existence. In such moments hi3 spirit seemed to 
break, and his fortitude to forsake him, and it is impossible to read the 
many expressions of passionate discontent which appear in his letters — 
complaints that had never been suffered to escape him in prison and in 
torture — without feeling*how much easier it is to meet the most violent 
persecutions of the world, than to support the long trial of ingratitude and 

At length the gradual progress of his literary reputation began to prepare 
the way for a return to public life. His correspondence with Vittori, the 
Florentine ambassador at Rome, had been communicated to Leo X., and 
that pontiff, a liberal if not a judicious patron of learning, had, from time 
to time, encouraged the solitary labours of Machiavelli, by various marks 
of his favour and regard. He caused him to be consulted on many im- 
portant questions, and drew from him, through the medium of Vittori, 
many admirable views concerning the most interesting events of the period. 
At last, throwing aside the veil under which he had covered his communi- 
cations with Machiavelli, the pope invited him to prepare a plan for the 
remodelling of the government of Florence.* This was speedily followed 
by a mission, of but little moment in itself, but of great importance to him, 
as an earnest of a recall to his favourite occupations. But another blow 
seemed to await him at the first revival of his hopes, and before any fixed 
establishment had assured him of the permanence of his restoration to 
favour, Leo X. was suddenly cut off in the prime of his career. Thus 
deprived of a protector who, although slow to grant him confidence, had 
been ready to acknowledge his merit, Machiavelli remained for a short time 
in the greatest uncertainty. Another mission, however, of a more import- 
ant character, was soon confided to him by one of the principal corporations 
of the city, and while engaged at Venice in the negotiations for its fulfil- 
ment, he received the welcome tidings that his name had been inserted 
among those of the citizens that were held eligible to office. 

About this time the Cardinal Julius commissioned Machiavelli to write 
the History of Florence, which he accordingly completed to the death of 
Lorenzo the Magnificent, and presented it to Julius in 1525, who shortly 
before had been elected to the pontificate upon the death of Adrian the 
successor of Leo, under the title of Clement VII. This great work "is 
enough," says Hallam, "to immortalize the name of Machiavelli. Seldom 
has a more giant stride been made in any department of literature than by 
this judicious, clear, and elegant history : for the preceding historical 
works, whether in Italy or out of it, had no claims to the praise of classical 
composition, whilst this has ranked among the greatest of that order. 
Machiavelli was the first who gave at once a luminous development of 
great events in their causes and connections, such as we find in the first 
book of his History of Florence. That view of the formation of European 
societies, both civil and ecclesiastical, on the ruins of the Roman empire, 
though it may seem now to contain only what is familiar, had never been 

* See Roscoe's Leo X., (Stand. Lib. edit.) vol. ii. p. 203. 


attempted before, and is still, for its conciseness and truth, as good as any 
that can be read." 

In the Florentine history, the merit of acute and vigorous thought which 
characterizes all the productions of Machiavelli, is enhanced by the skill 
with which he arranges his subject and conducts his narrative. The transi- 
tions are generally easy and natural, and the charm of the narrative is 
preserved by the peculiar art with which he interweaves his generalization 
with the facts from which it proceeds, and sometimes even with the sentence 
that records it. For the most important, however, of these remarks, a 
particular place has been reserved at the commencement of each book, 
where they serve as a general introduction to the portion that follows. 
Some of the most interesting questions are here treated with an energy and 
justness of thought which surpasses anything in even the best chapters of 
his Discourses, and with the peculiar and powerful train of logic which 
distinguishes all the works of Machiavelli. If it were possible to judge of 
a mind like his by detached passages and fragments of his general train of 
thought, no part of his writings could be selected with so much propriety 
as the Introductions to the books of the Florentine Histories. 

No work, if we except the Decameron of Boccaccio, has exercised upon 
Italian prose the same degree of influence as this. But while Boccaccio, 
misguided by his reverence for the Latin, laboured to form his style upon 
the arbitrary inversions and periodic sentences of the Roman classics, 
Machiavelli, with a juster appreciation of the genius of the Italian, adopted 
a simpler and more pleasing course, equally free from the inversions of the 
fourteenth century and the Gallicisms of the eighteenth. The language of 
the purer writers of Italy has continued to our own times, as it was left 
them by Machiavelli, and his works possess nearly the same freshness of 
expression which characterizes in our own language the prose of Dryden 
and of Addison. 

The style of Machiavelli is of a kind of which foreigners can in part 
perceive and appreciate the beauty. Uniting the excellences of clearness 
and conciseness with great vigour of expression and perfect harmony of 
arrangement, it conveys the ideas of the writer with a force and precision 
which make the deepest impressions upon the memory, while they leave 
no room for misapprehension. His words and phrases are peculiarly 
appropriate, and have that graceful eloquence which always results from a 
skilful use of idioms. There are no laboured expressions, no nicely wrought 
sentences, but the whole moves on, plain and concise in argument, clear 
and animated in description, nervous and powerful in declamation, warming 
with the feelings of the writer, and reflecting every shade of his thoughts. 

In Clement VII. Machiavelli found a firm and constant protector, and 
the most important portion of his political career now opened before him. 
The condition of Italy was at this period most deplorable. The various 
states were alarmed at the ascendency of the emperor Charles V., and the 
Constable Bourbon was leading the troops of the imperial army by slow 
advances, with the intention of enriching them by the sack of Florence or 
Rome. The danger was nearest to the former city, and Machiavelli was 
employed there to inspect the progress of the fortifications. He executed 
his task diligently, and, as was his wont, put his whole heait and soul into 


his occupation. In the meantime the imperial army continued to advance, 
and Machiavelli was sent several times to his friend Guicciardini, who was 
governor first of Modena and afterwards of Parma, to take measures with 
regard to the best method of securing the republic. A truce was concluded 
between Clement VII. and the ministers of Charles V., but it was not 
acceded to by Bourbon and his army ; which circumstance being unknown 
to the pope he dismissed his troops, and remained wholly unguarded, whilst 
Bourbon entered Tuscany, and without staying to attack Florence, hurried 
on by forced marches and took Rome by assault. Machiavelli followed 
the Italian army as it advanced to deliver the pope, who was besieged in 
the Castel Sant Angelo. From the environs of Rome he repaired to 
Civita Vecchia, where Andrea Doria commanded a fleet ; and from him he 
obtained the means of repairing by sea to Leghorn. Before embarking, he 
received intelligence of the revolution of Florence. On hearing of the 
taking of Rome, on the 6th of May, the republicans rose against the Medici, 
and they were forced to quit the city. The government was changed on 
the 16th of May, and things were restored to the same state they were in 

Machiavelli returned to Florence full of hope. He considered that the 
power was now in the hands of his friends, and that he should again enter 
on public life under prosperous auspices. His hopes were disappointed — 
public feeling was against him : his previous services, his imprisonment and 
torture, were forgotten, while it was remembered that, since 1513, he had 
been continually aiming at getting employed by the Medici, against whom 
the public feeling was violently excited. He was actually in their service 
when they were driven from the city. These circumstances rendered him 
displeasing to men who considered themselves the deliverers of their 
country. Machiavelli was disappointed by their neglect, and deeply 
wounded by their distrust. He fell ill, and taking some pills to which he 
was in the habit of having recourse when he was indisposed, he grew 
worse, and died two days after, on the 22nd of June, 1527, in the fifty- 
ninth year of his age. A letter of one of his sons describes the particulars 
of his death, and mentions that he died in the greatest poverty. He was 
buried at the church of Santa Croce in Florence, and left five children by 
his wife Marietta Corsini, who survived him, with but little or no fortune. 

Machiavelli was of middle stature, rather thin, and of olive complexion. 
He was gay in conversation, obliging with his friends, and fond of the arts. 
He had readiness of wit ; and it is related of him that, being reproved for 
the maxims of his " Prince," he replied, "If I taught princes how to 
tyrannize, I also taught the people how to destroy them." He probably 
developes in these words the secrets of his writings. He was willing to 
teach both parties, but his heart was with the republic. In his works he 
united the keenest comic wit with the profoundest philosophical reflection ; 
the skill of the satirist with the gravity of the historian ; the warmth of 
poetic feeling with the shrewdness of political sagacity; and bringing into 
actual life the same versatility and apparent contradiction of character— the 
pliant skill of an Italian diplomatist with the virtues of a faithful citizen 
and the tenderness of an affectionate father and friend. In short, whether 
we consider him in his life or in his works, we shall be constantly struck 
with the peculiar and strongly marked character of both, and be prepared 


to acknowledge that if the " mind of man be indeed the proper study of 
mankind," few volumes contain a richer store of varied wisdom than the 
life and writings of Machiavelli. 

None of the works of Machiavelli were printed during his life, but the 
copies which had been prepared for the use of his friends, or of the patrons 
to whom particular portions were dedicated, had been freely circulated in 
manuscript both in Florence and in Rome. Within a few years, however, 
after his death, all his larger works were printed ; and obtaining extensive 
circulation, soon gave rise to that violent controversy which has been con- 
tinued, with very little increase of judgment or diminution of virulence, 
during the course of some centuries. The first to commence this warfare 
was the celebrated Cardinal Pole, who assailed with great vehemence the 
principles of the " Prince." This attack was followed in a few years by a 
violent dissertation of the Bishop Caterino Politi. A French Protestant, 
Innocent Gentiletto, next entered the lists, and the warfare, thus begun, 
was continued with a virulence of which it is difficult to find the parallel. 
The works of this celebrated Italian have accordingly been interdicted by 
several popes, and for a long time considered to contain principles subver- 
sive of religion and humanity. 

More than two centuries passed away before justice was done to the 
memory of Machiavelli, when, through the exertions and liberality of Earl 
Cowper, a splendid edition of his works was published at Florence in 1782j 
and in 1787 a monument was erected over his remains, bearing the follow- 
ing inscription : — 

Tanto Nomini nullum par Elogium 

Nicolaus Machiavelli. 

Obiit Anno A. P. V. M.D.XXVII. 







Irruption of Northern people upon the Roman territories — Visigoths — 
Barbarians called in by Stilicho — Vandals in Africa — Franks and Bur- 
gundians give their names to France and Burgundy — The Huns — Angles 
give the name to England — Attila, king of the Huns, in Italy — Genseric 
takes Rome — The Lombards. 

The people who inhabit the northern parts beyond the 
Rhine and the Danube, living in a healthy and prolific region, 
frequently increase to such vast multitudes, that part of them 
are compelled to abandon their native soil, and seek a habit- 
ation in other countries. The method adopted, when one of 
these provinces had to be relieved of its superabundant 
population, was to divide into three parts, each containing an 
equal number of nobles and of people, of rich and of poor. 
The third upon whom the lot fell, then went in search of new 
abodes, leaving the remaining two-thirds in possession of 
their native country. 

These migrating masses destroyed the Roman empire by 
the facilities for settlement which the country offered when 
the emperors abandoned Rome, the ancient seat of their 
dominion, and fixed their residence at Constantinople ; for 
by this step they exposed the western empire to the rapine of 
both their ministers and their enemies ; the remoteness of 
their position preventing them either from seeing or providing 
for its necessities. To suffer the overthrow of such an ex- 
tensive empire, established by the blood of so many brave and 

2 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. i. ch. 1. a.d. 379. 

virtuous men, showed no less folly in the princes themselves 
than infidelity in their ministers ; for not one irruption alone, 
but many, contributed to its ruin; and these barbarians 
exhibited much ability and perseverance in accomplishing 
their object. 

The first of these northern nations that invaded the empire 
after the Cimbrians, who were conquered by Caius Marius, 
was the Visigoths — which name in our language signifies 
" Western Goths." These, after some battles fought upon 
its confines, long held their seat of dominion upon the 
Danube, with consent of the emperors ; and although, moved 
by various causes, they often attacked the Roman provinces, 
were always kept in subjection by the imperial forces. 
The emperor Theodosius conquered them with great glory ; 
and, being wholly reduced to his power, they no longer 
elected a sovereign of their own, but, satisfied with the terms 
which he granted them, lived and fought under his ensigns 
and authority. On the death of Theodosius, his sons Arcadius 
and Honorius succeeded to the empire, but not to the talents 
and fortune of their father ; and the times became changed 
with the princes. Theodosius had appointed a governor to 
each of fhe three divisions of the empire, Rufhnus to the 
eastern, to the western Stilicho, and Gildo to the African. 
Each of these, after the death of Theodosius, determined not 
to be governors merely, but to assume sovereign dominion 
over their respective provinces. Gildo and Rufnnus were 
suppressed at their outset ; but Stilicho, concealing his 
design, ingratiated himself with the new emperors, and at the 
same time so disturbed their government, as to facilitate his 
occupation of it afterwards. To make the Visigoths their 
enemies, he advised that the accustomed stipend allowed to 
this people should be withheld; and as he thought these 
enemies would not be sufficient alone to disturb the empire, 
he contrived that the Burgundians, Franks, Vandals, and 
Alans (a northern people in search of new habitations), should 
assail the Roman provinces. 

That they might be better able to avenge themselves for 
the injury they had sustained, the Visigoths, on being de- 
prived of their subsidy, created Alaric their king ; and having 
assailed the empire, succeeded, after many reverses, in over- 
running Italy, and finally in pillaging Rome. 

B c. ch. 1. a.d. 448. EMPEROR THEODOSIUS. 3 

After this victory, Alaric died, and his successor Astolphus, 
having married Placidia, sister of the emperors, agreed with 
them to go to the relief of Gaul and Spain, which provinces 
had been assailed by the Vandals, Burgundians, Alans, and 
Franks, from the causes before mentioned. Hence it fol- 
lowed, that the Vandals, who had occupied that part of Spain 
called Betica (now Andalusia), being pressed by the Visigoths, 
and unable to resist them, were invited by Boniface, who 
governed Africa for the empire, to occupy that province ; for, 
being in rebellion, he was afraid his error would become 
known to the emperor. For these reasons the Vandals gladly 
undertook the enterprize, and under Genseric their king 
became lords of Africa. 

At this time Theodosius, son of Arcadius, succeeded to 
the empire ; and, bestowing little attention on the affairs of 
the west, caused those who had taken possession to think of 
securing their acquisitions. Thus the Vandals ruled Africa ; 
the Alans and Visigoths, Spain ; whilst the Franks and Bur- 
gundians not only took Gaul, but each gave their name to 
the part they occupied ; hence one is called France, the other 
Burgundy. The good fortune of these brought fresh people 
to the destruction of the empire, one of which, the Huns, 
occupied the province of Pannonia, situated upon the nearer 
shore of the Danube, and which, from their name, is still 
called Hungary. To these disorders it must be added, that 
the emperor, seeing himself attacked on so many sides, to 
lessen the number of his enemies, began to treat first with 
the Vandals, then with the Franks ; a course which diminished 
his own power, and increased that of the barbarians. Nor 
was the island of Britain, which is now called England, 
secure from them ; for the Britons, being apprehensive of 
those who had occupied Gaul, called the Angli, a people 
of Germany, to their aid ; and these, under Vortigern their 
king, first defended, and then drove them from the island, 
of which they took possession, and after themselves named 
the country England. But the inhabitants, being robbed of 
their home, became desperate by necessity, and resolved 
to take possession of some other country, although they had 
been unable to defend their own. They therefore crossed 
the sea with their families, and settled in the country nearest to 
the beach, which from themselves is called Brittany. The 

b 2 

4 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B.i. ch. 1. ad. 452. 

Huns, who were said above to have occupied Pannonia, 
joining with other nations, as the Zepidi, Eruli, Turingi, and 
Ostro, or eastern Goths, moved in search of new countries, 
and not being able to enter France, which was defended by 
the forces of the barbarians, came into Italy under Attila 
their king. He, a short time previously, in order to possess 
the entire monarchy, had murdered his brother Bleda ; and 
having thus become very powerful, Andaric, king of the 
Zepidi, and Velamir, king of the Ostrogoths, became subject 
to him. Attila, having entered Italy, laid siege to Aquileia, 
where he remained without any obstacle for two years, wasting 
the country round, and dispersing the inhabitants. This, as 
will be related in its place, caused the origin of Venice. 
After the taking and ruin of Aquileia, he directed his 
course towards Rome, from the destruction of which he ab- 
stained at the entreaty of the pontiff, his respect for whom 
was so great that he left Italy and retired into Austria, 
where he died. After the death of Attila, Velamir, king of 
the Ostrogoths, and the heads of the other nations, took arms 
against his sons Henry and Uric, slew the one and compelled 
the other, with his Huns, to repass the Danube and return to 
their country; whilst the Ostrogoths and the Zepidi esta- 
blished themselves in Pannonia, and the Eruli and the Turingi 
upon the farther bank of the Danube. 

Attila having left Italy, Valentinian, emperor of the 
west, thought of restoring the country ; and, that he might 
be more ready to defend it against the barbarians, aban- 
doned Rome, and removed the seat of government to Ra- 
venna. The misfortunes which befell the western empire 
caused the emperor, who resided at Constantinople, on many 
occasions to give up the possession of it to others, as a 
charge full of danger and expense ; and sometimes, without 
his permission, the Romans, seeing themselves so abandoned, 
created an emperor for their defence, or suffered some one to 
usurp the dominion. This occurred at the period of which 
we now speak, when Maximus, a Roman, after the death of 
Valentinian, seized the government, and compelled Eudocia, 
widow of the late emperor, to take him for her husband; 
but she, being of imperial blood, scorned the connexion 
of a private citizen ; and being anxious to avenge herself 
for the insult, secretly persuaded Genseric, king of the 

R i. ch. 1. A.r».4S0. THE LOMBARDS. 5 

Vandals and master of Africa to come into Italy, representing 
to him the advantage he would derive from the undertaking, 
and the facility with which it might be accomplished 
Tempted by the hope of booty, he came immediately, and 
finding Rome abandoned, plundered the city during four- 
teen clays. He also ravaged many other places in Italy, and 
then, loaded with wealth, withdrew to Africa. The Romans, 
having returned to their city, and Maximus being dead, 
elected Avitus, a Roman, as his successor. After this, 
several important events occurred both in Italy and in the 
countries beyond ; and after the deaths of many emperors, 
the empire of Constantinople devolved upon Zeno, and that of 
Rome upon Orestes and Augustulus his son, who obtained the 
sovereignty by fraud. Whilst they were designing to hold by 
force what they had obtained by treachery, the Eruli and the 
Turingi, who, after the death of Attila, as before remarked, 
had established themselves upon the farther bank of the 
Danube, united in a league and invaded Italy under Odoacer 
their general. Into the districts which they left unoccupied, 
the Longobardi or Lombards, also a northern people, entered, 
led by Godogo their king. Odoacer conquered and slew 
Orestes near Pavia, but Augustulus escaped. After this 
victory, that Rome might, with her change of power, also 
change her title, Odoacer, instead of using the imperial name, 
caused himself to be declared king of Rome. He was 
the first of those leaders who at this period overran the 
world and thought of settling in Italy ; for the others, 
either from fear that they should not be able to hold the 
country, knowing that it might easily be relieved by the 
eastern emperors, or from some unknown cause, after plun- 
dering her, sought other countries wherein to establish them- 

HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. i. ch.2. a.d.493. 


State of the Roman empire under Zeno — Theodoric king of the Ostrogoths 
— Character of Theodoric — Changes in the Roman empire — New lan- 
guages — New names — Theodoric dies — Belisarius in Italy — Totila 
takes Rome — Narses destroys the Goths — New form of government in 
Italy — Narses invites the Lombards into Italy — The Lombards change 
the form of government. 

At this time the ancient Roman empire was governed by 
the following princes : Zeno, reigning in Constantinople, 
commanded the whole of the eastern empire ; the Ostrogoths 
ruled Mesia and Pannonia ; the Visigoths, Suavi, and Alans, 
held Gascony and Spain ; the Vandals, Africa ; the Franks 
and Burgundians, France ; and the Eruli and Turingi, Italy. 
The kingdom of the Ostrogoths had descended to Theodoric, 
nephew of Velamir, who, being on terms of friendship with 
Zeno the eastern emperor, wrote to him that his Ostrogoths 
thought it an injustice that they, being superior in valour to 
the people thereabout, should be inferior to them in dominion ; 
and that it was impossible for him to restrain them within the 
limits of Pannonia. So, seeing himself under the necessity 
of allowing them to take arms and go in search of new 
abodes, he wished first to acquaint Zeno with it, in order that 
he might provide for them, by granting some country in 
which they might establish themselves, by his good favour, 
with greater propriety and convenience. Zeno, partly from 
fear and partly from a desire to drive Odoacer out of 
Italy, gave Theodoric permission to lead his people against 
him, and take possession of the country. Leaving his friends 
the Zepidi in Pannonia, Theodoric marched into Italy, slew 
Odoacer and his son, and, moved by the same reasons which 
had induced Valentinian to do so, established his court at 
Ravenna, and like Odoacer took the title of king of Italy. 

Theodoric possessed great talents both for war and 
peace : in the former he was always conqueror, and in 
the latter he conferred very great benefits upon the cities and 
people under him. He distributed the Ostrogoths over the 
country, each district under its leader, that he might more 
conveniently command them in war, and govern them in 
peace. He enlarged Ravenna, restored Rome, and, with the a.d.500. CHARACTER OF THEODORIC. 7 

exception of military discipline, conferred upon the Romans 
every honour. He kept within their proper bounds, wholly 
by the influence of his character, all the barbarian kings who 
occupied the empire ; he built towns and fortresses between the 
point of the Adriatic and the Alps, in order, with the greater 
facility, to impede the passage of any new hordes of barbarians 
who might design to assail Italy ; and if, towards the latter 
end of his life, so many virtues had not been sullied by acts 
of cruelty, caused by various jealousies of his people, such 
as the deaths of Symmachus and Boethius, men of great holi- 
ness, every point of his character would have deserved the 
highest praise. By his virtue and goodness, not only Rome 
and Italy, but every part of the western empire, freed from 
the continual troubles which they had suffered from the fre- 
quent influx of barbarians, acquired new vigour, and began 
to live in an orderly and civilized manner. For surely if 
any times were truly miserable for Italy and the provinces 
overrun by the barbarians, they were those which occurred 
from Arcadius and Honorius to Theodoric. If we only 
consider the evils which arise to a republic or a kingdom by ; 
a change of prince or of government ; not by foreign interfer- 
ence, but by civil discord (in which we may see how even 
slight variations suffice to ruin the most powerful kingdoms or 
states), we may then easily imagine how much Italy and the 
other Roman provinces suffered, when they not only changed 
their forms of government and their princes, but also their laws, 
customs, modes of living, religion, language, and name. Any 
one of such changes, by itself, without being united with 
others, might, with thinking of it, to say nothing of the 
seeing and suffering, infuse terror into the strongest minds. 

From these causes proceeded the ruin as well as the origin 
and extension of many cities. Among those which were | 
ruined were Aquileia, Luni, Chiusi, Popolonia, Fiesole, and ' 
many others. The new cities were Venice, Siena, Ferrara, 
Aquila, with many towns and castles which for brevity we 
omit. Those which became extended were Florence, Genoa, 
Pisa, Milan, Naples and Bologna; to all of which may be 
added, the ruin and restoration of Rome, and of many other 
cities not previously mentioned. 

From this devastation and new population arose new 

8 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. i ch. 2. a.d-526. 

languages, as we see in the different dialects of France, 
Spain and Italy; which, partaking of the native idiom of 
the new people and of the old Roman, formed a new manner 
of discourse. Besides, not only were the names of provinces 
changed, but also of lakes, rivers, seas, and men ; for France, 
Spain, and Italy are full of fresh names, wholly different from 
the ancient ; as, omitting many others, we see that the* Po, the 
Garcia, the Archipelago, are names quite different from those 
which the ancients used ; whilst instead of Caesar and Pompey 
we have Peter, Matthew, John, &c. 

Among so many variations, that of religion was not of 
little importance ; for, whilst combating the customs of the 
ancient faith with the miracles of the new, very serious 
troubles and discords were created amongst men. And if 
Christians had been united in one faith, fewer disorders would 
have followed ; but the contentions amongst themselves, of 
the churches of Rome, Greece, and Ravenna, joined to those 
of the heretic sects with the catholics, served in many ways 
to render the world miserable. Africa is a proof of this ; 
having suffered more horrors from the Arian sect, whose doc- 
trines were believed by the Vandals, than from any avarice or 
natural cruelty of the people themselves. Living amid so many 
persecutions, the countenances of men bore witness of the 
terrible impressions upon their minds ; for besides the evils 
they suffered from the disordered state of the world, they 
scarcely could have recourse to the help of God, in whom 
the unhappy hope for relief ; for the greater part of them, 
being uncertain what divinity they ought to address, died 
miserably, without help and without hope. 

Having been the first who put a stop to so many evils, 
Theodoric deserves the highest praise ; for during the thirty- 
eight years he reigned in Italy, he brought the country to 
such a state of greatness, that her previous sufferings were 
no longer recognisable. But at his death, the kingdom de- 
scending to Atalaric, son of Amalasontha his daughter, and 
the malice of fortune not being yet exhausted, the old evils 
soon returned ; for Atalaric died soon after his grandfather, 
and the kingdom coming into the possession of his mother, 
she was betrayed by Theodatus, whom she had called to assist 
her in the government. He put her to death and made him- 
self king ; and having thus become odious to the Ostrogoths, 

B. i. ch. 2. a ,d. 546. TOTILA TAKES ROME. 9 

the emperor Justinian entertained the hope of driving him 
out of Italy. Justinian appointed Belisarius to the com- 
mand of this expedition, as he had already conquered Africa, 
expelled the Vandals, and reduced the country to the imperial 

Belisarius took possession of Sicily, and from thence pass- 
ing into Italy, occupied Naples and Rome. The Goths, see- 
ing this, slew Theodatus their king, whom they considered 
the cause of their misfortune, and elected Vitiges in his 
stead, who, after some skirmishes, was besieged and taken by 
Belisarius at Ravenna ; but before he had time to secure the 
advantages of his victory, Belisarius was recalled by Justi- 
nian, and Joannes and Vitalis were appointed in his place. 
Their principles and practices were so different from those of 
Belisarius, that the Goths took courage and created Ildovadus, 
governor of Verona, their king. After Ildovadus, who was 
slain, came Totila, who routed the imperial forces, took Tus- 
cany and Naples, and recovered nearly the whole of what 
Belisarius had taken from them. On this account Justinian 
determined to send him into Italy again ; but, coming with 
only a small force, he lost the reputation which his former 
victories had won for him, in less time than he had taken 
to acquire it. Totila being at Ostia with his forces, took 
Rome before his eyes ; but being unable to hold or to leave the 
city, he destroyed the greater part of it, drove out the citizens, 
and took the senators away with him. Thinking little of 
Belisarius, he led his people into Calabria, to attack the forces 
which had been sent from Greece. 

Belisarius, seeing the city abandoned, turned his mind to 
the performance of an honourable work. Viewing the ruins 
of Rome, he determined to rebuild her walls and recall her 
inhabitants with as little delay as possible. But fortune was 
opposed to this laudable enterprise ; for Justinian, being at 
this time assailed by the Parthians, recalled him ; and his 
duty to his sovereign compelled him to abandon Italy to 
Totila, who again took Rome, but did not treat her with such 
severity as upon the former occasion; for at the entreaty of 
St. Benedict, who in those days had great reputation for 
sanctity, he endeavoured to restore her. In the meantime, 
Justinian having arranged matters with the Parthians, again 
thought of sending a force to the relief of Italy ; but the Sclavi, 

10 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. i. ch. 2. a.d. 568. 

another northern people, having crossed the Danube and 
attacked Illyria and Thrace, prevented him, so that Totila 
held almost the whole country. Having conquered the 
Sclavonians, Justinian sent Narses, a eunuch, a man of 
great military talent, who, having arrived in Italy, routed and 
slew Totila. The Goths who escaped sought refuge in Pavia, 
where they created Teias their king. On the other hand, 
Narses after the victory took Rome, and coming to an engage- 
ment with Teias near Nocera, slew him and routed his army. 
By this victory, the power of the Goths in Italy was quite 
annihilated, after having existed for seventy years, from the 
coming of Theodoric to the death of Teias. 

No sooner was Italy delivered from the Goths than Justi- 
nian died, and was succeeded by Justin, his son, who, at the 
instigation of Sophia his wife, recalled Narses, and sent 
Longinus in his stead. Like those who preceded him, he 
made his abode at Ravenna, and besides this, gave a new 
form to the government of Italy; for he did not appoint 
governors of provinces, as the Goths had done, but in every 
city and town of importance, placed a ruler whom he called 
a duke. Neither in this arrangement did he respect Rome 
more than the other cities ; for having set aside the consuls 
and senate, names which up to this time had been preserved, 
he placed her under a duke, who was sent every year from 
Ravenna, and called her the duchy of Rome ; whilst to him 
who remained at Ravenna, and governed the whole of Italy 
for the emperor, was given the name of Exarch. This 
division of the country facilitated the ruin of Italy, and 
gave the Lombards an early occasion of occupying it. Narses 
was greatly enraged with the emperor, for having recalled 
him from the government of the province, which he had won 
with his own valour and blood ; whilst Sophia, not content 
with the injury done by withdrawing him, treated him in the 
most offensive manner, saying she wished him to come back 
that he might spin with the other eunuchs. Full of indigna- 
tion, Narses persuaded Alboin, king of the Lombards, who 
then reigned in Pannonia, to invade and take possession of 

The Lombards, as was said before, occupied those places 
upon the Danube which had been vacated by the Eruli and 
Turingi, when Odoacer their king led them into Italy ; where, 

B. l. ch. 2. ad. 572. ALBOIN, SOVEREIGN OF PANNONIA. 11 

having been established for some time, their dominions were 
held by Alboin, a man ferocious and bold, under whom they 
crossed the Danube, and coming to an engagement with Cuni- 
mund, king of the Zepidi, who held Pannonia, conquered 
and slew him. Alboin finding Rosamond, daughter of Cuni- 
mund, amongst the captives, took her to wife, and made 
himself sovereign of Pannonia ; and, moved by his savage 
nature, caused the skull of Cunimund to be formed into a cup, 
from which, in memory of the victory, he drank. Being invited 
into Italy by Narses, with whom he had been in friendship 
during the war with the Goths, he left Pannonia to the Huns, 
who after the death of Attila had returned to their country. 
Finding, on his arrival, the province divided into so many 
parts, he presently occupied Pavia, Milan, Verona, Vicenza, the 
whole of Tuscany, and the greater part of Flamminia, which 
is now called Romagna. These great and rapid acquisi- 
tions made him think the conquest of Italy already secured ; 
he therefore gave a great feast at Verona, and having become 
elevated with wine, ordered the skull of Cunimund to be 
filled, and caused it to be presented to the queen Rosamond, 
who sat opposite, saying loud enough for her to hear, that 
upon occasion of such great joy she should drink with her 
father. These words were like a dagger to the lady's bosom, 
and she resolved to have revenge. Knowing that Helmichis, 
a noble Lombard, was in love with one of her maids, she ar- 
ranged with the young woman, that Helmichis, without being 
acquainted with the fact, should sleep with her instead of his 
mistress. Having effected her design, Rosamond discovered 
herself to Helmichis, and gave him the choice either of killing 
Alboin, and taking herself and the kingdom as his reward, 
or of being put to death as the ravisher of the queen. Hel- 
michis consented to destroy Alboin ; but after the murder, 
finding they could not occupy the kingdom, and fearful that 
the Lombards would put them to death for the love they bore 
to Alboin, they seized the royal treasure, and fled with it to 
Longinus, at Ravenna, who received them favourably. 

During these troubles the emperor Justinus died, and was 
succeeded by Tiberius, who, occupied in the wars with the 
Parthians, could not attend to the affairs of Italy ; and this 
seeming to Longinus to present an opportunity, by means of 
Rosamond and her wealth, of becoming king of the Lombards 

12 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. i. ch. 2. a.d. 575 

and of the whole of Italy, he communicated his design to her, 
persuaded her to destroy Helmichis, and so take him for her 
husband. To this end, having prepared poisoned wine, she 
with her own hand presented it to Helmichis, who complained 
of thirst as he came from the bath. Having drunk half of it, he 
suspected the truth, from the unusual sensation it occasioned, 
and compelled her to drink the remainder ; so that in a few 
hours both came to their end, and Longinus was deprived of 
the hope of becoming king. 

In the meantime the Lombards, having drawn themselves 
together in Pavia, which was become the principal seat of 
their empire, made Clefis their king. He rebuilt Imola, de- 
stroyed by Narses, and occupied Rimini and almost every place 
up to Rome ; but he died in the course of his victories. 
Clefis was cruel to such a degree, not only towards strangers, 
but to his own Lombards, that these people, sickened of royal 
power, did not create another king, but appointed amongst 
themselves thirty dukes to govern the rest. This prevented 
the Lombards from occupying the whole of Italy, or of ex- 
tending their dominion further than Benevento ; for, of the 
cities of Rome, Ravenna, Cremona, Mantua, Padua, Monselice, 
Parma, Bologna, Faenza, Forli, and Cesena, some defended 
themselves for a time, and others never fell under their do- 
minion ; since, not having a king, they became less prompt for 
war, and when they afterwards appointed one, they were, by 
living in freedom, become less obedient, and more apt to quarrel 
amongst themselves; which from the first prevented a fortunate 
issue of their military expeditions, and was the ultimate cause 
of their being driven out of Italy. The affairs of the Lom- 
bards being in the state just described, the Romans and 
Longinus came to an agreement with them, that each should 
lay down their arms and enjoy what they already possessed. 

ch. 3. a.d 731. PONTIFFS OF ITALY. 13 


Beginning of the greatness of the pontiffs in Italy — Abuse of censures and 
indulgences — The pope applies to Pepin, king of France, for assistance 
— Donation of Pepin to the pontiff — Charlemagne — End of the kingdom 
of the Lombards — The title of cardinal begins to be used — The empire 
passes to the Germans — Berengarius, duke of Friuli, created king of 
Italy — Pisa becomes great — Order and division of the states of Italy — 
Electors of the emperor created. 

In these times the popes began to acquire greater temporal 
authority than they had previously possessed ; although the 
immediate successors of St. Peter were more reverenced 
for the holiness of their lives, and the miracles which they 
performed ; and their example so greatly extended the Chris- 
tian religion, that princes of other states embraced it, in order 
to obviate the confusion which prevailed at that period. The 
emperor having become a Christian and returned to Constan- 
tinople, it followed, as was remarked at the commencement 
of the book, that the Roman empire was the more easily ruined, 
and the church more rapidly increased her authority. Neverthe- 
less, the whole of Italy, being subject either to the emperors 
or the kings till the coming of the Lombards, the popes never 
acquired any greater authority than what reverence for their 
habits and doctrine gave them. In other respects they obeyed 
the emperors or kings ; officiated for them in their affairs, as 
ministers or agents ; and were even sometimes put to death by 
them. He who caused them to become of more importance 
in the affairs of Italy, was Theodoric, king of the Goths, 
when he established the seat of his empire at Ravenna ; for, 1 
Rome being without a prince, the Romans found it necessary, for 
their safety, to yield obedience to the pope ; his authority, 
however, was not greatly increased thereby, the only advantage j 
being, that the church of Rome was allowed to take precedence 
of that of Ravenna. But the Lombards having taken posses- 
sion, and Italy being divided into many parts, the pope had 
an opportunity of greater exertion. Being as it were the head 
of Rome, both the emperor of Constantinople and the Lom- 
bards respected him; so that the Romans, by his means, 
entered into league with the Lombards, and with Longinus, 
not as subjects, but as equals. Thus the popes, at one time 

14 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. i. ch. 3. a.d. 731- 

friends of the Greeks, and at another of the Lombards, in- 
creased their own power : but upon the ruin of the eastern 
empire, which occurred during the time of Heraclius, 
their influence was reduced; for the Sclavi, of whom we 
6poke before, again assailed Illyria, and having occupied the 
country, named it Sclavonia, after themselves ; and the other 
parts were attacked by the Persians, then by the Saracens 
under Mohammed, and lastly by the Turks, who took Syria, 
Africa, and Egypt. These causes induced the reigning pope, 
in his distress, to seek new friends, and he applied to the 
king of France. Nearly all the wars which the northern bar- 
barians carried on in Italy, it may be here remarked, were 
occasioned by the pontiffs ; and the hordes, with which the 
country was inundated, were generally called in by them. The 
same mode of proceeding still continued, and kept Italy weak 
and unsettled. And, therefore, in relating the events which 
have taken place from those times to the present, the ruin of the 
empire will be no longer illustrated, but only the increase of the 
pontificate and of the other principalities which ruled Italy till 
the coming of Charles VIII. It will be seen how the popes, 
first with censures, and afterwards with these and arms, min- 
gled with indulgences, became both terrible and venerable ; and 
how, from having abused both, they ceased to possess any 
influence, and were wholly dependent on the will of others 
for assistance in their wars. 

But to return to the order of our narration. Gregory III. 
occupied the papacy, and the kingdom of the Lombards was 
held by Astolphus, who, contrary to agreement, seized Ravenna, 
and made war upon the pope. On this account, Gregory no 
longer relying upon the emperor of Constantinople, since he, for 
the reasons above given, was unable to assist him, and unwill- 
ing to trust the Lombards, for they had frequently broken 
their faith, had recourse to Pepin II., who, from being 
lord of Austria and Brabant, had become king of France ; 
not so much by his own valour as by that of Charles Martel 
his father, and Pepin his grandfather ; for Charles Martel 
being governor of the kingdom, effected the memorable defeat 
of the Saracens near Tours, upon the Loire, in which two 
hundred thousand of them are said to have been left dead 
upon the field of battle. Hence, Pepin, by his father's 
reputation and his own abilities, became afterwards king of 

B. i. ch. 3. a.d. 800. DONATION TO THE POPE. 15 

France. To him Pope Gregory, as we have said, applied for 
assistance against the Lombards, which Pepin promised to 
to grant, but desired first to see him and be honoured with his 
presence. Gregory accordingly went to France, passing un- 
injured through the country of his enemies, so great was the 
respect they had for religion, and was treated honourably by 
Pepin, who sent an army into Italy, and besieged the Lom- 
bards in Pavia. King Astolphus, compelled by necessity, made 
proposals of peace to the French, who agreed to them at the 
entreaty of the pope — for he did not desire the death of his 
enemy, but that he should be converted and live. In this 
treaty, Astolphus promised to give to the church all the places 
he had taken from her ; but the king's forces having returned 
to France, he did not fulfil the agreement, and the pope 
again had recourse to Pepin, who sent another army, con- 
quered the Lombards, took Ravenna, and, contrary to the 
wishes of the Greek emperor, gave it to the pope, with all 
the places that belonged to the exarchate, and added to them 
Urbino and the Marca. But Astolphus, whilst fulfilling the 
terms of his agreement, died, and Desiderius, a Lombard, who 
was duke of Tuscany, took arms to occupy the kingdom, and 
demanded assistance of the pope, promising him his friend- 
ship. The pope acceding to his request, the other princes 
assented. Desiderius kept faith at first, and proceeded to 
resign the districts to the pope, according to the agreement 
made with Pepin, so that an exarch was no longer sent from 
Constantinople to Ravenna, but it was governed according to 
the will of the pope. Pepin soon after died, and was suc- 
ceeded by his son Charles, the same who, on account of the 
magnitude and success of his enterprises, was called Charle- 
magne, or Charles the Great. Theodore I. now succeeded to the 
papacy, and discord arising between him and Desiderius, the 
latter besieged him in Rome. The pope requested assistance of 
Charles, who, having crossed the Alps, besieged Desiderius in 
Pavia, where he took both him and his children, and sent them 
prisoners to France. He then went to visit the pontiff at 
Rome, where he declared, that the pope, being vicar of God, 
could not be judged by men. The pope and the people of 
Rome made him emperor ; and thus Rome began to have 
an emperor of the west. And whereas the popes used to be 
established by the emperors, the latter now began to have 

16 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. i. ch. 3. a.d. 814. 

need of the popes at their elections ; the empire continued to 
lose its powers, while the church acquired them ; and, by 
these means, she constantly extended her authority over tem- 
poral princes. 

The Lombards, having now been two hundred and thirty-two 
years in the country, were strangers only in name ; and Charles, 
wishing to re-organise the states of Italy, consented that they 
should occupy the places in which they had been brought up, 
and call the province after their own name, Lombardy. That 
they might be led to respect the Roman name, he ordered 
all that part of Italy adjoining to them, which had been 
under the exarchate of Ravenna, to be called Romagna. Be- 
sides this, he created his son Pepin, king of Italy, whose 
dominion extended to Benevento ; all the rest being possessed 
by the Greek emperor, with whom Charles was in league. 
About this time Pascal I. occupied the pontificate, and the 
priests of the churches of Rome, from being near to the pope, 
and attending the elections of the pontiff, began to dignify 
their power with a title, by calling themselves cardinals, and 
arrogated so great authority, that having excluded the people 
of Rome from the election of pontiff, the appointment of 
a new pope was scarcely ever made except from one of 
their number : thus on the death of Pascal, the cardinal of 
St. Sabina was created pope by the title of Eugenius II. Italy 
having come into the hands of the French, a change of form 
and order took place, the popes acquiring greater temporal 
power, and the new authorities adopting the titles of count 
and marquis, as that of duke had been introduced by Lon- 
ginus, exarch of Ravenna. After the deaths of some pontiffs, 
Osporco, a Roman, succeeded to the papacy; but on account 
of his unseemly appellation, he took the name of Sergius, and 
this was the origin of that change of names which the popes 
adopt upon their election to the pontificate. 

In the meantime, the emperor Charles died and was succeeded 
by Lewis (the Pious), after whose death so many disputes arose 
amongst his sons, that at the time of his grandchildren, the 
house of France lost the empire, which then came to the 
Germans ; the first German emperor being called Arnolfus. 
Nor did the Carlovingian family lose the empire only ; their 
discords also occasioned them the loss of Italy ; for the Lom- 
bards, gathering strength, offended the pope and the Romans ; 

B. I. ch. 3. a.d. 931. BERENGARIUS, KING OF ROME. 17 

and Arnolfo, not knowing where to seek relief, was com- 
pelled to create Berengarius, duke of Fruili, king of Italy. 
These events induced the Huns, who occupied Pannonia, to 
assail Italy : but, in an engagement with Berengarius, they 
were compelled to return to Pannonia, which had from them 
been named Hungary. 

Romano was at this time emperor of Greece, having, whilst 
prefect of the army, dethroned Constantine ; and as Pugl'a 
and Calabria, which, as before observed, were parts of the 
Greek empire, had revolted, he gave permission to the Sara- 
cens to occupy them ; and they having taken possession of these 
provinces, besieged Rome. The Romans, Berengarius being 
then engaged in defending himself against the Huns, ap- 
pointed Alberic, duke of Tuscany, their leader. By his 
valour Rome was saved from the Saracens, who, withdrawing 
from the siege, erected a fortress upon Mount Gargano, by 
means of which they governed Puglia and Calabria, and 
harassed the wliole country. Thus Italy was in those 
times very grievously afflicted, being in constant warfare with 
the Huns in the direction of the Alps, and, on the Neapolitan 
side, suffering from the inroads of the Saracens. This state 
of things continued many years, occupying the reigns of three 
Berengarii, who succeeded each other ; and during this time 
the pope and the church were greatly disturbed ; the impo- 
tence of the eastern, and the disunion which prevailed 
amongst the western princes, leaving them without defence. 
The city of Genoa, with all her territory upon the rivers, 
having been overrun by the Saracens, an impulse was thus 
given to the rising greatness of Pisa, in which city multitudes 
took refuge who had been driven out of their own country. 
These events occurred in the year 931, when Otho, duke 
of Saxony, the son of Henry and Matilda, a man of great 
prudence and reputation, being made emperor, the pope 
Agapito, begged that he would come into Italy and relieve 
him from the tyranny of the Berengarii. 

The States of Italy were governed in this manner : Lom- 
bardy was under Berengarius III. and Alfred his son ; Tus- 
cany and Romagna were governed by a deputy of the western 
emperor ; Puglia and Calabria were partly under the Greek 
emperor, and partly under the Saracens ; in Rome two con- 
suls were annually chosen from the nobility, who governed 

IB HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. i. ch. 3. a.d. 1040. 

her according to ancient custom ; to these was added a pre- 
fect, who dispensed justice among the people ; and there 
was a council of twelve, who each year appointed rectors for 
the places subject to them. The popes had more or less 
authority in Rome and the rest of Italy, in proportion as 
they were favourites of the emperor or of the most powerful 
states. The emperor Otho came into Italy, took the kingdom 
from the Berengarii, in which they had reigned fifty-five 
years, and reinstated the pontiff in his dignity. He had a son 
and a nephew, each named Otho, who, one after the other, 
succeeded to the empire. In the reign of Otho III., Pope 
Gregory V. was expelled by the Romans; whereupon the 
emperor came into Italy and replaced him ; and the pope, 
to revenge himself of the Romans, took from them the right 
to create an emperor, and gave it to three princes and three 
bishops of Germany ; the princes of Brandenburg, Palatine, 
and Saxony, and the bishops of Magonza, Treveri, and Co- 
lonia. This occurred in the year 1002. After the death of 
Otho III., the electors created Henry, duke of Bavaria, 
emperor, who at the end of twelve years was crowned by 
Pope Stephen VIII. Henry and his wife Simeonda were 
persons of very holy life, as is seen by the many temples 
built and endowed by them, of which the church of St. 
Miniato, near Florence, is one. Henry died in 1024, and was 
succeeded by Conrad of Suabia ; and the latter by Henry 
II., who came to Rome ; and as there was a schism in 
the church of three popes, he set them all aside, and caused 
the election of Clement II., by whom he was crowned em- 

en. 1 ad. 1053. POPES — HOW ELECTED. 19 


Nicholas II. commits the election of the pope to the cardinals — First ex- 
ample of a prince deprived of his dominions by the pope — Guelpha and 
Ghibellines — Establishment of the kingdom of Naples— Pope Urban i I. 
goes to France — The first crusade— New orders of knighthood — S;v 
takes from the Christians their possessions in the east — Death of the 
Countess Matilda — Character of Frederick Barbarossa — Schism — 
Frederick creates an anti-pope — Building of Alexandria in Puglia — 
Disgraceful conditions imposed by the pope upon Henry, king of En . 
— Reconciliation of Frederick with the pope — The kingdom of 'Naples 
passes to the Germans— Orders of St. Dominic and St. Francis. 

Italy was at this time governed partly by the people, some 
districts by their own princes, and others by the deputies 
of the emperor. The highest in authority, and to whom the 
others referred, was called the chancellor. Of the princes, 
the most powerful were Godfred and the Countess Matilda 
his wife, who was daughter of Beatrice, the sister of Henry 
II. She and her husband possessed Lucca, Parma, Reggio, 
Mantua, and the whole of what is now called the Patrimony of 
the Church. The ambition of the Roman people caused many 
wars between them and the pontiffs, whose authority had pre- 
viously been used to free them from the emperors ; but when 
they had taken the government of the city to themselves, and 
regulated it according to their own pleasure, they at once became 
at enmity with the popes, who received far more injuries from 
them than from any Christian potentate. And whilst the 
popes caused all the west to tremble with their censures, the 
people of Rome were in open rebellion against them; nor 
had they or the popes any other purpose, but to deprive each 
other of reputation and authority. 

Nicholas II. now attained the papacy ; and as Gregory V. 
had taken from the Romans the right to create an emperor, 
he in the same manner determined to deprive them of their 
share in the election of the pope ; and confined the creation 
to the cardinals alone. Nor did this satisfy him ; for, having 
agreed with the princes who governed Calabria and Puglia, 
by methods which we shall presently relate, he compelled the 
officers whom the Romans appointed to their different juris- 
dictions, to render obedience to him ; and some of them he even 
deprived of their offices. After the death of Nicholas, there 

c 2 

'20 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. i. ch. 4. A d. 1082. 

was a schism in the church ; the clergy of Lombardy refused 
obedience to Alexander II., created at Rome, and elected 
Cadolo of Parma anti-pope ; and Henry, who hated the power 
of the pontiffs, gave Alexander to understand that he must 
renounce the pontificate, and ordered the cardinals to go into 
Germany to appoint a new pope. He was the first who felt 
the importance of spiritual weapons ; for the pope called a 
council at Rome, and deprived Henry of both the empire 
and the kingdom. Some of the people of Italy took the part 
of the pope, others of Henry ; and hence arose the factions 
of the Guelphs and the Ghibellines ; that Italy, relieved from the 
inundations of barbarians, might be distracted with intestine 
strife. Henry, being excommunicated, was compelled by his 
people to come into Italy, and fall barefooted upon his knees 
before the pope, and ask his pardon. This occurred in the 
year 1082. Nevertheless, there shortly afterwards arose new 
discords betwixt the pope and Henry ; upon which the pope 
again excommunicated him, and the emperor sent his son, 
also named Henry, with an army to Rome, and he, with the 
assistance of the Romans, who hated the pope, besieged him 
in the fortress. Robert Guiscard then came from Puglia to 
his relief, but Henry had left before his arrival, and returned 
to Germany. The Romans stood out alone, and the city was 
sacked by Robert, and reduced to ruins. As from this 
Robert sprung the establishment of the kingdom of Naples, it 
seems not superfluous to relate particularly his actions and 

Disunion having arisen among the descendants of Charle- 
magne, occasion was given to another northern people, called 
Normans, to assail France and occupy that portion of the 
country which is now named Normandy. A part of these 
people came into Italy at the time when the province was 
infested with the Berengarii, the Saracens, and the Huns, 
and occupied some places in Romagna, where, during the 
wars of that period, they conducted themselves valiantly. 
Tancred, one of these Norman princes, had many children ; 
amongst the rest were William, surnamed Ferabac, and 
Robert, called Guiscard. When the principality was governed 
bv William, the troubles of Italy were in some measure 
abated ; but the Saracens still held Sicily, and plundered the 
coasts of Italy daily. On this account William arranged with the 

B.i. ch.4. a.d.1088. ESTABLISHMENT OF NAPLES. 2l 

princes oi' Capua and Salerno, and with Melorco, a Greek, 
who governed Puglia and Calabria for the Greek emperor, to 
attack Sicily ; and it was agreed that, if they were victorious, 
each should have a fourth part of the booty and the territory. 
They were fortunate in their enterprise, expelled the Saracens, 
and took possession of the island ; but, after the victory, 
Melorco secretly caused forces to be brought from Greece, 
seized Sicily in the name of the emperor, and appropriated 
the booty to himself and his followers. William was much 
dissatisfied with this, but reserved the exhibition of his dis- 
pleasure for a suitable opportunity, and left Sicily with the 
princes of Salerno and Capua. But when they had parted 
from him to return to their homes, instead of proceeding to 
Romagna he led his people towards Puglia, and took Meln : 
and from thence, in a short time, recovered from the Greek 
emperor almost the whole of Puglia and Calabria, over which 
provinces, in the time of pope Nicholas II. his brother Robert 
Guiscard was sovereign. Robert having had many disputes 
with his nephews for the inheritance of these states, requested 
the influence of the pope to settle them ; which his holiness 
was very willing to afford, being anxious to make a friend of 
Robert, to defend himself against the emperor of Germany 
and the insolence of the Roman people, which indeed shortly 
followed, when, at the instance of Gregory, he drove Henry 
from Rome, and subdued the people. Robert was succeeded 
bv his sons Roger and William, to whose dominion not only was 
Naples added, and all the places interjacent as far as Rome, 
and afterwards Sicily, of which Roger became sovereign ; 
but, upon William going to Constantinople, to marry 
the daughter of the emperor, his dominions were wrested 
from him by his brother Roger. Inflated with so great 
an acquisition, Roger first took the title of king of Italy, but 
afterwards contented himself with that of king of Puglia 
and Sicily. He was the first who established and gave that 
name to this kingdom, which still retains its ancient bound- 
aries, although its sovereigns have been of many families and 
countries. Upon the failure of the Normans, it came to the 
Germans, after these to the French, then to the Arragonese. 
and it is now held by the Flemish. 

About this time Urban II. became pope, and excited the hatred 
of the Romans. As he did not think himself safe even in 

22 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. i. ch. 4. a.d. 1099. 

Italy, on account of the disunion which prevailed, he directed 
his thoughts to a generous enterprise. With his whole clergy 
he went into France, and at Anvers, having drawn together 
a vast multitude of people, delivered an oration against the 
infidels, which so excited the minds of his audience, that they 
determined to undertake the conquest of Asia from the 
Saracens ; which enterprise, with all those of a similar 
nature, were afterwards called crusades, because the people 
who joined in them bore upon their armour and apparel the 
figure of a cross. The leaders were Godfrey, Eustace, 
and Baldwin of Bouillon, counts of Boulogne, and Peter, a 
hermit celebrated for his prudence, and sanctity. Many 
kings and people joined them, and contributed money; 
and many private persons fought under them at their own 
expense ; so great was the influence of religion in those 
- upon the minds of men, excited by the example of those 
who were its principal ministers. The proudest successes 
Lded the beginning of this enterprise ; for the whole of 
Minor. Syria, and part of Egypt, fell under the power 
of the Christians. To commemorate these events the order of 
the Knights of Jerusalem was created, which still continues, 
and holds the island of Rhodes — the only obstacle to the 
power of the Mohammedans. The same events gave rise to 
the order of the Knights Templars, which, after a short time, on 
account of their shameless practices, was dissolved. Various 
fortune attended the crusaders in the course of their enter- 
prises, and many nations and individuals became celebrated 
accordingly. The kings of France and England joined 
them, and, with the Venetians, Pisans, and Genoese, acquired 
great reputation, till the time of Saladin, when, by whose talents, 
and the disagreement of the Christians amongst themselves, 
the crusaders were robbed of all that glory which they had at 
first acquired ; and, after ninety years, were driven from those 
places which they had so honourably and happily recovered. 
After the death of Urban, Pascal II. became pope, and the 
empire was under the dominion of Henry IV. who came to 
Rome pretending friendship for the pontiff, but afterwards 
put his holiness and all his clergy in prison ; nor did he 
release them till it was conceded that he should dispose of 
the churches of Germany according to his own pleasure. 
About this time, the Countess Matilda died, and made the 

B. i. ch. 4. a.d. 1152. CHARACTER OF FREDERICK I. 23 

church heir to all her territories. After the deaths of Pascal 
and Henry IV. many popes and emperors followed, till the 
papacy was occupied by Alexander III. and the empire by 
Frederick, surnamed Barbarossa. The popes during this period 
had met with many difficulties from the people of Rome and 
the emperors ; and in the time of Barbarossa they were much 
increased. Frederick possessed military talent, but was so 
full of pride that he would not submit to the pontiff. How- 
ever, at his election to the empire he came to Rome to be 
crowned, and returned peaceably to Germany, where he did not 
long remain in the same mind, but came again into Italy to 
subdue certain places in Lombardy, which did not obey him. 
It happened at this time that the cardinal St. Clement, of a 
Roman family, separated from Alexander, and was made 
pope by some of the cardinals. The emperor Frederick, 
being encamped at Crema. Alexander complained to him of 
the anti-pope, and received for answer, that they were both to 
go to him, and, having heard each side, he would determine 
which was the true pope. This reply displeased Alexander ; 
and, as he saw the emperor was inclined to favour the anti- 
pope, he excommunicated him, and then fled to Philip, king of 
France. Frederick, in the meantime, carrying on the war in 
Lombardy, destroyed Milan ; which caused the union of Verona, 
Padua, and Vicenza against him, for their common defence. 
About the same period the anti-pope died, and Frederick set 
up Guido of Cremona, in his stead. 

The Romans, from the absence of the pope, and from the 
emperor being in Lombardy, had re-acquired some authority 
in Rome, and proceeded to recover the obedience of 
those places which had been subject to them. And as the 
people of Tusculum refused to submit to their authority, 
they proceeded against them with their whole force ; but 
these, being assisted by Frederick, routed the Roman army 
with such dreadful slaughter, that Rome was never after 
either so populous or so rich. Alexander now returned to 
the city, thinking he could be safe there on account of the 
enmity subsisting betwixt the Romans and the emperor, and 
from the enemies which the latter had in Lombardy. But 
Frederick, setting aside every other consideration, led his forces 
and encamped before Rome ; and Alexander fled to William, 
king of Puglia, who had become heir of that kingdom after the 


24 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. t. ch. 4. a.d. 116C. 

death of Roger. Frederick, however, withdrew from Rome 
on account of the plague which then prevailed, and returned 
to Germany. The cities of Lombardy in league against him, 
in order to command Pavia and Tortona, which adhered to 
the imperial party, built a city, to be their magazine in time 
of war, and named it Alexandria, in honour of the pope and 
in contempt of Frederick. 

Guido the anti-pope died, and Giovanni of Fermo was 
appointed in his stead, who, being favoured by the imperialists, 
lived at Montefiascone. Pope Alexander being at Tusculum, 
whither he had been called by the inhabitants, that with his 
authority he might defend them from the Romans, ambassa- 
dors came to him from Henry king of England, to signify 
that he was not blameable for the death of Thomas a Becket, 
archbishop of Canterbury, although public report had slan- 
dered him with it. On this the pope sent two cardinals to 
England, to inquire into the truth of the matter ; and 
although they found no actual charge against the king, 
still, on account of the infamy of the crime, and for not hav- 
ing honoured the archbishop so much as he deserved, the 
sentence against the king of England was, that having called 
together the barons of his empire, he should upon oath 
before them affirm his innocence ; that he should immediately 
send two hundred soldiers to Jerusalem, paid for one year ; 
that, before the end of three years, he should himself pro- 
ceed thither with as large an army as he could draw together ; 
that his subjects should have the power of appealing to Rome 
when they thought proper ; and that he should annul what- 
ever acts had been passed in his kingdom unfavourable to 
ecclesiastical rule. These terms were all accepted by Henry ; 
and thus a great king submitted to a sentence that in our 
day a private person would have been ashamed of. But 
whilst the pope exercised so great authority over distant 
princes, he could not compel obedience from the Romans 
themselves, or obtain their consent that he should remain in 
Rome, even though he promised to intermeddle only with 
ecclesiastical affairs. 

About this time Frederick returned to Italy, and whilst he 
was preparing to carry on new wars against the pope, his pre- 
lates and barons declared they would abandon him unless he 
reconciled himself with the church ; so that he was obliged to 

B. i. en. 4. a.d. 1191. DEATH OF GIOVANNI. 25 

go and submit to the pope at Venice, where a pacification was 
e fleeted, but in which the pontiff deprived the emperor of all 
authority over Rome, and named William, king of Sicily and 
Puglia, a coadjutor with him. Frederick, unable to exist 
without war, joined the crusaders in Asia, that he might exer- 
cise that ambition against Mohammed, which he could not 
gratify against the vicars of Christ. And being near the 
river Cydnus, tempted by the clearness of its waters, bathed 
therein, took cold, and died. Thus the river did a greater favour 
to the Mohammedans, than the pope's excommunications had 
done to the Christians ; for the latter only checked his pride, 
while the former finished his career. Frederick being dead, the 
pope had now only to suppress the contumacy of the Romans ; 
and, after many disputes concerning the creation of consuls, 
it was agreed that they should elect them as they had been 
accustomed to do, but that these should not undertake the 
office, till they had first sworn to be faithful to the church. • 
This agreement being made, Giovanni the anti-pope took 
refuge in Mount Albano, where he shortly afterwards died. 
William, king of Naples, died about the same time, and the 
pope intended to occupy that kingdom on the ground that the 
king had left only a natural son named Tancred. But the 
barons would not consent, and wished that Tancred should be 
king. Celestine III., the then pope, anxious to snatch the king- 
dom from the hands of Tancred, contrived that Henry, son of 
Frederick should be elected emperor, and promised him the 
kingdom on the condition that he should restore to the 
church all the places that had belonged to her. To facilitate 
this affair, he caused Gostanza, a daughter of William, who 
had been placed in a monastery and was now old, to be 
brought from her seclusion and become the wife of Henry. 
Thus the kingdom of Naples passed from the Normans, who 
had been the founders of it, to the Germans. As soon as the 
affairs of Germany were arranged, the emperor Henry came 
into Italy with Gostanza his wife, and a son about four years 
of age named Frederick; and, as Tancred was now dead, 
leaving only an infant named Roger, he took possession 
of the kingdom without much difficulty. After some years, 
Henry died in Sicily, and was succeeded in the kingdom by 
Frederick, and in the empire by Otho duke of Saxony, who 
was elected through the influence of Innocent III. But as 

26 IIISTGBY OF FLORENCE. B. i. ch. 5 a.d. 1218. 

soon as he had taken the crown, contrary to the general ex- 
pectation, he became an enemy of the pope, occupied Ro- 
magna, and prepared to attack the kingdom. On this account 
the pope excommunicated him ; he was abandoned by every 
one, and the electors appointed Frederick, king of Naples, 
emperor in his stead. Frederick came to Rome for his coro- 
nation ; but the pope, being afraid of his power, would not 
crown him, and endeavoured to withdraw him from Italy as 
he had done Otho. Frederick returned to Germany in anger, 
and, after many battles with Otho, at length conquered him. 
Meanwhile, Innocent died, who, besides other excellent works, 
built the hospital of the Holy Ghost at Rome. He was suc- 
ceeded by Honorius III., in whose time the religious orders 
of St. Dominic and St. Francis were founded, 1218. Hono- 
rius crowned Frederick, to whom Giovanni, descended from 
Baldwin king of Jerusalem, who commanded the remainder 
of the Christian army in Asia and still held that title, gave a 
da i^hter in marriage ; and, with her portion, conceded to him 
the title to that kingdom : hence it is that every king of Naples 
is called king of Jerusalem. 


The state of Italy — Beginning of the greatness of the house of Este — 
Guelphs and Ghibellines — Death of the Emperor Frederick II. — Man- 
fred takes possession of the kingdom of Naples— Movements of the 
Guelphs and Ghibellines in Lombardy — Charles of Anjou invested by 
tie pope with the kingdom of Naples and Sicily — Restless policy of the 
popes — Ambitious views of pope Nicholas III. — Nephews of the popes — 
Sicilian vespers — The Emperor Rodolph allows many cities to purchase 
their independence — Institution of the jubilee — The popes at Avignon. 

At this time the states of Italy were governed in the follow- 
ing manner : the Romans no longer elected consuls, but in- 
stead of them, and with the same powers, they appointed one 
senator, and sometimes more. The league which the cities 
of Lombardy had formed against Frederick Barbarossa still 
continued, and comprehended Milan, Brescia, Mantua, and 
the greater number of the cities of Romagna, together with 
Verona, Vicenza. Padua, and Trevisa. Those which took part 

B. a.d. 1243. INNOCENT IV. POFE. 27 

with the emperor, were Cremona, Bergamo, Parma, Reggio, 
and Trento. The other cities and fortresses of Lombardy, 
Romagna, and the march of Trevisa, favoured, according to 
their necessities, sometimes one party, sometimes the other. 

In the time of Otho III. there had come into Italy a man 
called Ezelin, who, remaining in the country, had a son, and 
he too had a son named Ezelin. This person, being rich and 
powerful, took part with Frederick, who, as we have said, 
was at enmity with the pope; Frederick, at the instigation 
and with the assistance of Ezelin, took Verona and Mantua, 
destroyed Vicenza, occupied Padua, routed the army of the 
united cities, and then directed his course towards Tuscany. 
Ezelin, in the meantime, had subdued the whole of the Trevisan 
March, but could not prevail against Ferrara, which was de- 
fended by Azone da Este and the forces which the pope had 
in Lombardy ; and, as the enemy were compelled to with- 
draw, the pope gave Ferrara in fee to this Azone, from 
whom are descended those who now govern that city. 
Frederick halted at Pisa, desirous of making himself lord 
of Tuscany ; but, whilst endeavouring to discover what friends 
and foes he had in that province, he scattered so many seeds of 
discord as occasioned the ruin of Italy ; for the factions of the 
Guelpfhs and Ghibellines multiplied, — those who supported the 
church taking the name of Guelphs, while the followers of 
the emperor were called Ghibellines, these names being 
first heard at Pistoia. Frederick, marching from Pisa, as- 
sailed and wasted the territories of the church in a variety of 
ways ; so that the pope, having no other remedy, unfurled 
against him the banner of the cross, as his predecessors had 
done against the Saracens. Frederick, that he might not be 
suddenly abandoned by his people, as Frederick Barbarossa 
and others had been, took into his pay a number of Saracens ; 
and to bind them to him, and establish in Italy a firm bul- 
wark against the church, without fear of papal maledic- 
tions, he gave them Nocera in the kingdom of Naples, that, 
having a refuge of their own, they might be placed in greater 
security. The pontificate was now occupied by Innocent IV., 
who, being in fear of Frederick, went to Genoa, and thence 
to France, where he appointed a council to be held at Lyons, 
which it was the intention of Frederick to attend, but he was 
prevented by the rebellion of Parma : and, being repulsed, 

28 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. i. ch. 5. a.d. 1265. 

he went into Tuscany, and from thence to Sicily, where he 
died, leaving his son Conrad in Suabia ; and in Puglia, 
Manfred, whom he had created duke of Benevento, born 
of a concubine. Conrad came to take possession of the 
kingdom, and having arrived at Naples, died, leaving an 
infant son named Corradino, who was then in Germany. On 
this account Manfred occupied the state, first as guardian of 
Corradino, but afterwards, causing a report to be circulated 
that Corradino had died, made himself king, contrary to the 
wishes of both the pope and the Neapolitans, who, however, 
were obliged to submit. 

"Whilst these things were occurring in the kingdom of 
Naples, many movements took place in Lombardy betwixt 
the Guelphs and the Ghibellines. The Guelphs were headed 
by a legate of the pope ; and the Ghibelline party by Ezelin, 
who possessed nearly the whole of Lombardy beyond the Po; 
and, as in the course of the war Padua rebelled, he put to 
death twelve thousand of its citizens. But before its close 
he was himself slain, in the eightieth year of his age, 
and all the places he had held became free. Manfred, king 
of Naples, continued those enmities against the church which 
had been begun by his ancestors, and kept the Pope, Urban 
IV. in continual alarm ; so that, in order to subdue him, Ur- 
ban summoned the crusaders, and went to Perugia to await 
their arrival. Seeing them few and slow in their approach, 
he found that more able assistance was necessary to conquer 
Manfred. He therefore sought the favour of France ; created 
Louis of Anjou, the king's brother, sovereign of Naples and 
Sicily, and excited him to come into Italy to take possession of 
that kingdom. But before Charles came to Rome the pope died, 
and was succeeded by Clement IV., in whose time he arrived at 
Ostia, with thirty galleys, and ordered that the rest of his 
forces should come by land. During his abode at Rome, the 
citizens, in order to attach him to them, made him their sena- 
tor, and the pope invested him with the kingdom, on condi- 
tion that he should pay annually to the church the sum of 
fifty thousand ducats ; and it was decreed that, from thence- 
forth, neither Charles nor any other person, who might be 
king of Naples, should be emperor also. Charles marched 
against Manfred, routed his army, and slew him near Bene- 
vento, and then became sovereign of Sicily and Naples. 

B r.cH.5. A.n 1277. AMBITION OF NICHOLAS III. 29 

Corradino, to whom, by his father's will, the state belonged, 
having collected a great force in Germany, marched into 
Italy against Charles, with whom he came to an engagement 
at Tagliacozzo, was taken prisoner whilst endeavouring to 
escape, and being unknown, put to death. 

Italy remained in repose till the pontificate of Adrian V. 
Charles, being at Rome and governing the city by virtue of 
his office of senator, the pope, unable to endure his power, 
withdrew to Viterbo, and solicited the emperor Rodolph to 
come into Italy and assist him. Thus the popes, sometimes 
in zeal for religion, at others moved by their own ambition, 
were continually calling in new parties and exciting new dis- 
turbances. As soon as they had made a prince powerful, 
they viewed him with jealousy and sought his ruin ; and 
never allowed another to rule the country, which, from their 
own imbecility, they were themselves unable to govern. J 
Princes were in fear of them ; for, righting or running away, 
the popes always obtained the advantage, unless it happened 
they were entrapped by deceit, as occurred to Boniface VIII., 
and some others, who, under pretence of friendship, were en- 
snared by the emperors. Rodolph did not come into Italy, 
being detained by the war in which he was engaged with the 
king of Bohemia. At this time Adrian died, and Nicholas 
III., of the Orsini family, became pontiff. He was a bold, 
ambitious man ; and being resolved at any event to dimi- 
nish the power of Charles, induced the emperor Rodolph to 
complain that he had a governor in Tuscany favourable to 
the Guelphic faction, who after the death of Manfred had 
been replaced by him. Charles yielded to the emperor and 
withdrew his governor, and the pope sent one of his nephews, 
a cardinal, as governor for the emperor, who, for the honour 
done him, restored Romagna to the church, which had been 
taken from her by his predecessors, and the pope made Ber- 
toldo Orsino duke of Romagna. As Nicholas now thought 
himself powerful enough to oppose Charles, he deprived him 
of the office of senator, and made a decree that no one of 
royal race should ever be a senator in Rome. It was his in- 
tention to deprive Charles of Sicily, and to this end he en- 
tered into a secret negotiation with Peter, king of Arragon, 
which took effect in the following papacy. He also had the 
design of creating two kings out of his family, the one in Lorn- 

30 HISTORY OF FLOBEXCE. B. i. ch. 5. a.d. 1294. 

barely, the other in Tuscany, whose power would defend the 
church from the Germans who might design to come into 
Italy, and from the French who were in the kingdom of 
Naples and Sicily. But with these thoughts he died. He 
was the first pope who openly exhibited his own ambition ; 
and, under pretence of making the church great, conferred 
honours and emolument upon his own family. Previously to 
his time no mention is made of the nephews or families of 
any pontiff, but future history is full of them ; nor is there 
now anything left for them to attempt, except the effort to 
make the papacy hereditary. True it is, the princes of their 
creating have not long sustained their honours ; for the pon- 
tiffs, being generally of very limited existence, did not get 
their plants properly established. 

To Nicholas succeeded Martin IV., of French origin, and 
consequently favourable to the party of Charles, who sent 
him assistance against the rebellion of Romagna ; and whilst 
they were encamped at Furli, Guido Bonatto, an astrologer, 
contrived that at an appointed moment the people should 
assail the forces of the king, and the plan succeeding, all the 
French were taken and slain. About this period was also car- 
ried into effect the plot of Pope Nicholas and Peter, king of 
Arragon, by which the Sicilians murdered all the French that 
were in that island ; and Peter made himself sovereign of it, 
saying, that it belonged to him in the right of his wife Gostanza, 
daughter of Manfred. But Charles, whilst making warlike 
preparations for the recovery of Sicily, died, leaving a son, 
Charles II., who was made prisoner in Sicily, and to recover 
his liberty promised to return to his prison, if within three 
years he did not obtain the pope's consent, that the kings of 
Arragon should be invested with the kingdom of Sicily. 

The Emperor Rodolph, instead of coming into Italy, gave the 
empire the advantage of having done so, by sending an 
ambassador, with authority to make all those cities free which 
would redeem themselves with money. Many purchased 
their freedom, and with liberty changed their mode of living. 
Adolf of Saxony succeeded to the empire ; and to the papacy, 
Pietro del Murrone, who took the name of Celestino ; but, 
being a hermit and full of sanctity, after six months renoun- 
ced the pontificate, and Boniface VIII. was elected. 

After a time the French and Germans left Italy, ami the 

B. i. ch. 5. .v. o.l 305. THE JUBILEE. 31 

country remained wholly in the hands of the Italians ; but 
Providence ordained that the pope, when these enemies were 
withdrawn, should neither establish nor enjoy his authority, 
and raised two very powerful families in Rome, the Colonnesi 
and the Orsini, who with their arms, and the proximity 
of their abode, kept the pontificate weak. Boniface then 
determined to destroy the Colonnesi, and, besides excommu- 
nicating, endeavoured to direct the weapons of the church 
against them. This, although it did them some injury, 
proved more disastrous to the pope ; for those arms which 
from attachment to the faith performed valiantly against its 
enemies, as soon as they were directed against Christians for 
private ambition, ceased to do the will of those who wished 
to wield them. And thus the too eager desire to gratify I 
themselves, caused the pontiffs by degrees to lose their mili- 1 
tary power. Besides what is just related, the pope deprived 
two cardinals of the Colonnesi family of their office ; and 
Sciarra, the head of the house, escaping unknown, was taken 
by corsairs of Catalonia and put to the oar ; but being after- 
wards recognized at Marseilles, he was sent to Philip king of 
France, who had been excommunicated and deprived of the 
kingdom. Philip, considering that in a war against the pon- 
tiff he would either be a loser or run great hazards, had 
recourse to deception, and simulating a wish to come to 
terms, secretly sent Sciarra into Italy, who, having arrived 
at Anagnia, where his holiness then resided, assembled 
a few friends, and in the night took him prisoner. And 
although the people of Anagnia set him at liberty shortly 
after, yet from grief at the injury he died mad. Boniface was 
founder of the jubilee in 1300, and fixed that it should be 
celebrated at each revolution of one hundred years. In those 
times various troubles arose betwixt the Guelph and Ghibellme 
factions ; and the emperors having abandoned Italy, many 
places became free, and many were occupied by tyrants. 
Pope Benedict restored the scarlet hat to the cardinals of the 
Colonnesi family, and re-blessed Philip king of France. He 
was succeeded by Clement V., who, being a Frenchman, 
removed the papal court to Avignon in 1305. 

32 HTST0UY OF FLORENCE B. ;. en. 6. a.d. 1315. 


The emperor Henry comes into Italy — The Florentines take the part of the 
pope — The Visconti originate the duchy of Milan — Artifice of MafFeo 
Visconti against the family of la Torre— Giovanni Galeuzzo Visconti, 
first duke of Milan — The emperor Louis hi Italy — John, king of Bohe» 
mia, in Italy— League against the kin? of Bohemia and the pope's legate 
> — Origin of Venice — Liherty of the Venetians confirmed by Pepin and 
the Greek emperor — Greatness of Venice — Decline of Venice — Discord 
betwixt the pope and the emperor — Giovanna queen of Naples— Rienzi 
— The jubilee reduced to fifty years — Succession of the duke of Milan 
i — Cardinal Egidio the pope's legate — War betwixt the Genoese and the 

At this time, Charles II. of Naples died, and was succeeded 
by his sou Robert Henry of I,uxemburg had been elected 
to the empire, and came to Rome for his coronation, although 
the pope was not there. His coming occasioned great excite- 
ment in Lombardy ; for he sent all the banished to their 
homes, whether they were Guelphs or Ghibellines: and in con- 
sequence of this, one faction endeavouring to drive out the 
other, the whole province was filled with war ; nor could the 
emperor with all his endeavours abate its fury. Leaving 
Lombardy by way of Genoa, he came to Pisa, where he en- 
deavoured to take Tuscany from king Robert ; but not being 
successful, he went to Rome, where he only remained a few 
days, being driven away by the Orsini with the consent of 
King Robert, and returned to Pisa ; and that he might more 
securely make war upon Tuscany, and wrest the country from 
the hands of the king, he caused it to be assailed by Frede- 
rick monarch of Sicily. But when he was in hope of occupying 
Tuscany and robbing the king of Naples of his dominions, 
he died, and was succeeded by Louis of Bavaria. About the 
same period, John XXII. attained the papacy, during whose 
time the emperor still continued to persecute the Guelphs 
and the church, but they were defended by Robert and the 
Florentines. Many wars took place in Lombardy betwixt 
the Visconti and the Guelphs, and in Tuscany betwixt 
Castruccio of Lucca and the Florentines. As the family of 
Visconti gave rise to the duchy of Milan, one of the five 
principalities which afterwards governed Italy, I shall speak 
of them from a rather earlier date. 

B.r. en. 6. a.d. 1313. ARTIFICE OF MAFFEO. 33 

Milan, upon recovering from the ruin into which she had 
been thrown by Frederick Barbarossa, in revenge for her in- 
juries, joined the league formed by the Lombard cities for 
their common defence ; this restrained him, and for a 
while preserved alive the interests of the church in 
Lombardy. In the course of the wars which followed, the 
family of La Torre became very potent in that city, and 
their reputation increased so long as the emperor possessed 
little authority in the province.' But Frederick II. coming 
into Italy, and the Ghibelline party by the influence of Ezelin 
having grown powerful, seeds of the same faction sprang up 
in all the cities. In Milan were the Visconti, who expelled 
the La Torres ; these, however, did not remain out, for by 
agreement between the emperor and the pope they were re- 
stored to their country. For when the pope and his court 
removed to France, and the emperor Henry of Luxemburg 
came into Italy, with the pretext of going to Rome for his 
crown, he was received in Milan by Maffeo Visconti, and 
Guido della Torre, who were then the heads of these fami- 
lies. But Maffeo, designing to make use of the emperor for the 
purpose of expelling Guido, and thinking the enterprize not 
difficult, on account of the La Torre being of the contrary 
faction to the imperial, took occasion, from the remarks which 
the people made of the uncivil behaviour of the Germans, 
to go craftily about and excite the populace to arm themselves 
and throw off the yoke of these barbarians. AVhen a suit- 
able moment arrived, he caused a person in whom he 
confided to create a tumult, upon which the people took 
arms against the Germans. But no sooner was the mischief 
well on foot, than Maffeo, with his sons and their partisans, 
ran to Henry, telling him that all the disturbance had 
been occasioned by the La Torre family, who, not content to 
remain peaceably in Milan, had taken the opportunity to 
plunder him, that they might ingratiate themselves with the 
Guelphs of Italy and become princes of the city ; they then 
bade him be of good cheer, for they with their party, when- 
ever he wished it, were ready to defend him with their lives. 
Henry, believing all that Maffeo told him, joined his forces to 
those of the Visconti, and attacking the La Torre who were 
to various parts of the city endeavouring to quell the tumult, 
slew all upon whom they could lay hands, and having plun- 


J4 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. i. ch. 6. A.D. 1330. 

aered the others of their property, sent them into exile. By 
this artifice, Maffeo Visconti became a prince of Milan. Of 
him remained Galeazzo and Azzo ; and after these, Luchino 
and Giovanni. Giovanni became archbishop of Milan ; 
and of Luchino, who died before him, were left Bernabo 
and Galeazzo ; Galeazzo, dying soon after, left a son called the 
count of Virtu, who after the death of the archbishop, con- 
trived the murder of his uncle Bernabo, became prince of 
Milan, and was the first who had the title of duke. The 
duke left Filippo and Giovanmaria Angelo, the latter of whom 
being slain by the people of Milan, the state fell to Filippo, 
but he having no male heir, Milan passed from the family of 
Visconti to that of Sforza, in the manner to be related here- 

But to return to the point from which we deviated. The 
emperor Louis, to add to the importance of his party and to 
receive the crown, came into Italy ; and being at Milan, as 
an excuse for taking money of the Milanese, he pretended to 
make them free and to put the Visconti in prison; but shortly 
afterwards he released them, and, having gone to Rome, in 
order to disturb Italy with less difficulty, he made Piero della 
Corvara anti-pope, by whose influence, and the power of the 
Visconti, he designed to weaken the opposite faction in Tus- 
cany and Lombardy. But Castruccio died, and his death 
caused the failure of the emperor's purposes ; for Pisa and 
Lucca rebelled. The Pisans sent Piero della Corvara a 
prisoner to the pope in France, and the emperor, despairing 
of the affairs of Italy, returned to Germany. He had scarcely 
loft, before John king of Bohemia came into the country, at the 
request of the Ghibellines of Brescia, and made himself lord of 
that city and of Bergamo. And as his entry was with the con- 
sent of the pope, although he feigned the contrary, the legate 
of Bologna favoured him, thinking by this means to prevent the 
return of the emperor. This caused a change in the parties 
of Italy ; for the Florentines and king Robert, rinding the 
legate was favourable to the enterprises of the Ghibellines, 
became foes of all those to whom the legate and the king of 
Bohemia were friendly. Without, having regard for either 
faction, whether Guelph or Ghibelline, many princes joined 
them, of whom amongst others were the Visconti, the Delia 
Scala, Filippo Gonzago of Mantua, the Carrara, and those of 

fi. r. ch. 6. a.d. 1330. ORIGIN OF VENICE. 35 

Este. Upon this the pope excommunicated them all. The 
king, in fear of the league, went to collect forces in his own 
country, and having returned with a large army, still found 
his undertaking a difficult one ; so, seeing his error, he with- 
drew to Bohemia, to the great displeasure of the legate, leav- 
ing only Reggio and Modena guarded, and Parma in the care 
of Marsilio and Piero de' Rossi, who were the most powerful 
men in the city. The king of Bohemia being gone, Bologna 
joined the league ; and the leaguers divided amongst them- 
selves the four cities which remained of the church faction. 
They agreed that Parma should pertain to the Delia Scala ; 
Reggio to the Gonzaga ; Modena to the family of Este, and 
Lucca to the Florentines. But in taking possession of these 
cities, many disputes arose which were afterwards in a great 
measure settled by the Venetians. Some, perhaps, will think 
it a species of impropriety that we have so long deferred 
speaking of the Venetians, theirs being a republic, which, both j 
on account of its power and internal regulations, deserves to j 
be celebrated above any principality of Italy. But that this \ 
surprise may cease when the cause is known, I shall speak of 
their city from a more remote period ; that every one may un- 
derstand what were their beginnings, and the causes which 
so long withheld them from interfering in the affairs of Italy. 
When Attila, king of the Huns, besieged Aquileia, the in- 
habitants, after defending themselves a long time, began to 
despair of effecting their safety, and fled for refuge to several 
uninhabited rocks, situate at the point of the Adriatic Sea, 
now called the Gulf of Venice, carrying with them whatever 
moveable property they possessed. The people of Padua, 
finding themselves in equal danger, and knowing that, having 
become master of Aquileia, Attila would next attack them- 
selves, also removed with their most valuable property to a 
place on the same sea, called Rivo Alto, to which they brought 
their women, children, and aged persons, leaving the youth 
in Padua to assist in her defence. Besides these, the people 
of Monselice, with the inhabitants of the surrounding hills, 
driven by similar fears, fled to the same rocks. But after 
Attila had taken Aquileia, and destroyed Padua, Monselice, 
Vicenza, and Verona, the people of Padua and others who 
were powerful, continued to inhabit the marshes about Rivo 
Aito ; and in like manner all the people of the province an- 

d 2 


36 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. i. ch. 6. a.d. 1330. 

ciently called Venetia, driven by the same events, became 
collected in these marshes. Thus, under the pressure of ne- 
cessity, they left an agreeable and fertile country to occupy one 
sterile and unwholesome. However, in consequence of a great 
number of people being drawn together into a comparatively 
small space, in a short time they made those places not only 
habitable, but delightful; and having established amongst 
themselves laws and useful regulations, enjoyed themselves 
in security amid the devastations of Italy, and soon increased 
both in reputation and strength. For, besides the inhabitants 
already mentioned, many fled to these places from the cities 
of Lombardy, principally to escape from the cruelties of Clefis 
king of the Lombards, which greatly tended to increase the 
numbers of the new city ; and in the conventions which were 
made betwixt Pepin, king of France, and the emperor of 
Greece, when the former, at the entreaty of the pope, came to 
drive the Lombards out of Italy, the duke of Benevento and 
the Venetians did not render obedience to either the one or 
the other, but alone enjoyed their liberty. As necessity had 
led them to dwell on sterile rocks, they were compelled to 
seek the means of subsistence elsewhere ; and voyaging 
with their ships to every port of the ocean, their city became 
a depository for the various products of the world, and was 
itself filled with men of every nation. 

For many years, the Venetians sought no other dominion 
than that which tended to facilitate their commercial enter- 
prises, and thus acquired many ports in Greece and Syria ; 
and as the French had made frequent use of their ships in 
voyages to Asia, the island of Candia was assigned to them, 
in recompense for these services. Whilst they lived in this 
manner, their name spread terror over the seas, and was held 
in veneration throughout Italy. This was so completely 
the case, that they were generally chosen to arbitrate in 
controversies arising betwixt the states, as occurred in 
the difference betwixt the Colleagues, on account of the 
cities they had divided amongst themselves ; which being 
referred to the Venetians, they awarded Brescia and Ber- 
gamo to the Visconti. But when, in the course of time, 
urged by their eagerness for dominion, they had made them- 
selves masters of Padua, Vicenza, Trevisa, and afterwards of 
Verona, Bergamo, and Brescia, with many cities in Romagna 

B. L ch. 6. A-d. 1342. INTERNAL DISCORDS. 37 

and the kingdom of Naples, other nations were impressed 
with such an opinion of their power, that they were a terror, 
not only to the princes of Italy, but to the ultramontane kings. 
These states entered into an alliance against them, and in one 
day wrested from them the provinces they had obtained with 
so much labour and expense ; and although they have in lat- 
ter times re-acquired some portions, still, possessing neither 
power nor reputation, like all the other Italian powers, they 
live at the mercy of others. 

Benedict XII. having attained the pontificate and finding 
Italy lost, fearing too that the emperor would assume the 
sovereignty of the country, determined to make friends of all 
who had usurped the government of those cities which had 
been accustomed to obey the emperor ; that they might have 
occasion to dread the latter, and unite with himself in the 
defence of Italy. To this end, he issued a decree, confirming 
to all the tyrants of Lombardy the places they had seized. 
After making this concession the pope died, and was suc- 
ceeded by Clement VI. The emperor, seeing with what a 
liberal hand the pontiff had bestowed the dominions of the 
empire, in order to be equally bountiful with the property of 
others, gave to all who had assumed sovereignty over the 
cities or territories of the church, the imperial authority to 
retain possession of them. By this means Galeotto Malatesti 
and his brothers became lords of Rimino, Pesaro, and Fano ; 
Antonio da Montefeltro, of the Marca and Urbino ; Gentile da 
Varano, of Camerino ; Guido di Polenta, of Ravenna ; Sini- 
baldo Ordelafn, of Furli and Cesena ; Giovanni Manfredi, of 
Faenza; Lodovico Alidossi, of Imola; and besides these, 
many others in divers places. Thus, of all the cities, towns, 
or fortresses of the church, few remained without a prince ; 
for she did not recover herself till the time of Alexander VI., 
who, by the ruin of the descendants of these princes, restored 
the authority of the church. 

The emperor, when he made the concession before named, 
being at Tarento, signified an intention of going into Italy. In 
consequence of this, many battles were fought in Lombardy, 
and the Visconti became lords of Parma. Robert, king of 
Naples, now died, leaving only two grandchildren, the issue 
of his son Charles who had died a considerable time before him. 
He ordered that the elder of the two, whose name was Giovanna 

38 HISTOEY OE FLORENCE. B. i. ch. 6. a.d.1350. 

or Joan, should be heiress of the kingdom, and take for her 
husband, Andrea, son of the king of Hungary, his grandson. 
Andrea had not lived with her long, before she caused him to 
be murdered, and married another cousin, Louis, prince of 
Tarento. But Louis, king of Hungary, and brother of An- 
drea, in order to avenge his death, brought forces into Italy, 
and drove queen Joan and her husband out of the kingdom. 

At this period a memorable circumstance took place at 
Rome. Niccolo di Lorenzo, often called Rienzi or Cola di 
Rienzi, who held the office of chancellor at Campidoglio, 
drove the senators from Rome, and, under the title of tribune, 
made himself the head of the Roman republic ; restoring it 
to its ancient form, and with so great reputation of justice and 
virtue, that not only the places adjacent, but the whole of 
Italy sent ambassadors to him. The ancient provinces, seeing 
Rome arise to new life, again raised their heads, and some 
induced by hope, others by fear, honoured him as their 
sovereign. But Niccolo, notwithstanding his great reputation, 
lost all energy in the very beginning ' of his enterprise ; and 
as if oppressed with the weight of so vast an undertaking, 
without being driven away, secretly fled to Charles, king of 
Bohemia, who, by the influence of the pope, and in contempt 
of Louis of Bavaria, had been elected emperor. Charles, to 
ingratiate himself with the pontiff, sent Niccolo to him, a pri- 
soner. After some time, in imitation of Rienzi, Francesco 
Baroncegli seized upon the tribunate of Rome, and expelled the 
senators ; and the pope, as the most effectual means of repress- 
ing him, drew Niccolo from his prison, sent him to Rome, 
and restored to him the office of tribune ; so that he re-occu- 
pied the state and put Francesco to death ; but the Colonnesi 
becoming his enemies, he too, after a short time, shared the 
same fate, and the senators were again restored to their office. 
The king of Hungary, having driven out Queen Joan, returned 
to his kingdom ; but the pope, who chose to have the queen 
in the neighbourhood of Rome rather than the king, effected 
her restoration to the sovereignty, on the condition that her 
husband, contenting himself with the title of prince of Tarento, 
should not be called king. Being the year 1350, the pope 
thought that the jubilee, appointed by Boniface VIII. to take 
place at the conclusion of each century, might be renewed at 
the end of each fifty years ; and having issued a decree for 

B i. ch. 6. a.d. 1381. WAR AT VENICE. 39 

the establishment of it, the Romans, in acknowledgment of 
the benefit, consented that he should send four cardinals to 
reform the government of the city, and appoint senators ac- 
cording to his own pleasure. The pope again declared Louis 
of Tarento, king, and in gratitude for the benefit, Queen Joan 
gave Avignon, her inheritance, to the church. About this 
time Luchino Visconti died, and his brother the archbishop, 
remaining lord of Milan, carried on many wars against Tus- 
cany and his neighbours, and became very powerful. Bernabo 
and Galeazzo, his nephews, succeeded him ; but Galeazzo soon 
after died, leaving Giovan Galeazzo, who shared the state with 
Bernabo. Charles, king of Bohemia, was then emperor, and 
the pontificate was occupied by Innocent VI., who sent car- 
dinal Egidio, a Spaniard, into Italy. He restored the repu- 
tation of the church, not only in Rome and Romagna, but 
throughout the whole of Italy ; he recovered Bologna from 
the archbishop of Milan, and compelled the Romans to accept 
a foreign senator appointed annually by the pope. He made 
honourable terms with the Visconti, and routed and took pri- 
soner, John Agut, an Englishman, who with four thousand 
English had fought on the side of the Ghibellines in Tuscany. 
Urban V., hearing of so many victories, resolved to visit Italy 
and Rome, whither also the emperor came ; after remain- 
ing a few months, he returned to the kingdom of Bohemia, 
and the pope to Avignon. On the death of Urban, Gregory 
XI. was created pope ; and, as the cardinal Egidio was dead, 
Italy again re-commenced her ancient discords, occasioned by 
the union of the other powers against the Visconti ; and 
the pope, having first sent a legate with six thousand Bretons, 
came in person and established the papal court at Rome in 1376, 
after an absence of seventy-one years in France. To Gregory 
XL, succeeded Urban VI. but shortly afterwards Clement 
VI. was elected at Fondi by ten cardinals, who declared the 
appointment of Urban irregular. At this time, the Genoese 
threw off the yoke of the Visconti, under whom they had lived 
many years ; and betwixt them and the Venetians several im- 
portant battles were fought for the island of Tenedos. Al- 
though the Genoese were for a time successful, and held 
Venice in a state of siege during many months, the Venetians 
were at length victorious ; and by the intervention of the pope, 
peace was made in the year 1381. In these wars, artillery 
was first used, having been recently invented by the Dutch. 

40 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. i. ch. 7. a.d. 1400. 


Schism in the church — Ambitious views of Giovan Galeazzo Visconti — 
The pope and the Romans come to an agreement — Boniface IX. in- 
troduces the practice of Annates — Disturbance in Lombardy — The 
Venetians acquire dominion on terra firma— Differences betwixt the 
pope and the people of Rome — Council of Pisa — Council of Constanco 
— Filippo Visconti recovers his dominion — Giovanna II. of Naples — 
Political condition of Italy. 

A schism having thus arisen in the church, Queen Joan favoured 
the schismatic pope, upon which Urban caused Charles of 
Durazzo, descended from the kings of Naples, to undertake 
the conquest of her dominions. Having succeeded in 
his object, she fled to France, and he assumed the sove- 
reignty. The king of France, being exasperated, sent Louis 
of Anjou into Italy to recover the kingdom for the queen, to 
expel Urban from Rome, and establish the anti-pope. But 
in the midst of this enterprise Louis died, and his people 
being routed returned to France. In this conjuncture the 
pope went to Naples, where he put nine cardinals into prison 
for having taken the part of France and the anti-pope. He 
then became offended with the king, for having refused to 
make his nephew prince of Capua ; and pretending not to 
care about it, requested he would grant him Nocera for his 
habitation, but, having fortified it, he prepared to deprive the 
king of his dominions. Upon this the king pitched his camp 
before the place, and the pope fled to Naples, where he put 
to death the cardinals whom he had imprisoned. From 
thence he proceeded to Rome, and, to acquire influence, created 
twenty-nine cardinals. At this time Charles, king of Naples, 
went to Hungary, where, having been made king, he was shortly 
aftewards killed in battle, leaving a wife and two children at 
Naples. About the same time Giovanni Galeazzo Visconti 
murdered Bernabo his uncle and took the entire sovereignty 
upon himself; and, not content with being duke of Milan 
and sovereign of the whole of Lombardy, designed to make 
himself master of Tuscany ; but whilst he was intent upon 
occupying the province, with the ultimate view of making 
himself king of Italy, he died. Boniface IX. succeeded 
Urban VI. The anti-pope, Clement VI., also died, and 
Benedict XIII. was appointed his successor. 

B. i. CW. 7. a.d. 1400. POPE INNOCENT VII. 41 

Many English. Germans, and Bretons served at this period 
in the armies of Italy, commanded partly by those leaders 
who had from time to time authority in the country, and 
partly by such as the pontiffs sent, when they were at 
Avignon. With these warriors the princes of Italy long 
carried on their wars, till the coming of Lodovico da Cento, of 
Romagna, who formed a body of Italian soldiery, called the 
Company of St. George, whose valour and discipline soon 
caused the foreign troops to fall into disrepute, and gave 
reputation to the native forces of the country, of which the 
princes afterwards availed themselves in their wars with 
each other. The pope, Boniface IX., being at enmity with 
the Romans, went to Scesi, where he remained till the 
jubilee of 1400, when the Romans, to induce him to return 
to the city, consented to receive another foreign senator of 
his appointing, and also allowed him to fortify the castle of 
Saint Angelo : having returned upon these conditions, in 
order to enrich the church, he ordained that every one, 
upon vacating a benefice, should pay a year's value of it to 
the Apostolic Chamber. 

After the death of Giovan Galeazzo, duke of Milan, 
although he left two children, Giovanmaria and Filippo. the 
state was divided into many parts, and in the troubles which 
ensued, Giovanmaria was slain. Filippo remained some time 
in the castle of Pavia, from which, through the fidelity and 
virtue of the castellan, he escaped. Amongst others who 
occupied cities possessed by his father, was Guglielmo 
della Scala, who, being banished, fell into the hands of 
Francesco da Carrera, lord of Padua, by whose means he 
recovered the state of Verona, in which he only remained a 
shoit time, for he was poisoned, by order of Francesco, and 
the city taken from him. These things occasioned the people 
of Vicenza, who had lived in security under the protection of 
the Visconti, to dread the greatness of the lord of Padua, and 
they placed themselves under the Venetians, who, engaging 
in arms with him, first took Verona and then PaduaJ 

At this time Pope Boniface died, and was succeeded by 
Innocent VII. The people of Rome supplicated him to restore 
to them their fortresses and their liberty ; but as he would 
not consent to their petition, they called to their assistance 
Ladislaus, king of Naples. Becoming reconciled to tho 

42 HIST0EY OF "FLORENCE. B. i. ch. 7. a.d. 143& 

people, the pope returned to Rome, and made his nephew 
Lodovico count of La Marca. Innocent soon after died, and 
Gregory XII. was created, upon the understanding to renounce 
the papacy whenever the anti-pope would also renounce it. 
By the advice of the cardinals, in order to attempt the 
reunion of the church, Benedict, the antipope, came to Porto 
Venere, and Gregory to Lucca, where they made many 
endeavours, but effected nothing. Upon this, the cardinals 
of both the popes abandoned them ; Benedict going to Spain, 
and Gregory to Rimini. On the other hand, the cardinals, 
with the favour of Balthazar Cossa, cardinal and legate of 
Bologna, appointed a council at Pisa, where they created 
Alexander V.", who immediately excommunicated King La- 
dislaus, and invested Louis of Anjou with the kingdom ; this 
prince, with the Florentines, Genoese, and Venetians, attacked 
Ladislaus and drove him from Rome. In the heat of the 
war Alexander died, and Balthazar Cossa succeeded him, 
with the title of John XXIII. Leaving Bologna, where he 
was elected, he went to Rome, and found there Louis of Anjou, 
who had brought the armyfrOm Provence, and coming to an en- 
gagement with Ladislaus, routed him. But by the mismanage- 
ment of the leaders, they were unable to prosecute the victory, 
so that the king in a short time gathered strength and retook 
Rome. Louis fled to Provence, the pope to Bologna ; where 
considering how he might diminish the power of Ladislaus, 
he caused Sigismund king of Hungary, to be elected em- 
peror and advised him to come into Italy. Having a personal 
interview at Mantua, they agreed to call a general council, in 
which the church should be united ; and having effected 
this, the pope thought he should be fully enabled to oppose 
the forces of his enemies. 

At this time there were three popes, Gregory, Benedict, 
and Giovanni, which kept the church weak and in disrepute. 
The city of Constance, in Germany, was appointed for the 
holding of the council, contrary to the expectation of Pope 
John. And although the death of Ladislaus had removed 
the cause which induced the pope to call the council, still, 
having promised to attend, he could not refuse to go there. 
In a few months after his arrival at Constance he discovered 
his error, but it was too late; endeavouring to escape, he 
was taken, put into prison, and compelled to renounce the 

B. i. cu. 7. a.d. 1417. QUEEN GIOVANNA.II. 43 

papacy. Gregory, one of the anti-popes, sent his renuncia- 
tion, Benedict, the other, refusing to do the same, was con- 
demned as an heretic; but, being abandoned by his cardinals, 
he complied, and the council elected Oddo, of the Colonnesi 
family, pope, by the title of Martin V. Thus the church was 
united under one head, after having been divided by many 

Filippo Visconti was, as we have said, in the fortress of 
Pavia. But Fazino Cane, who in the affairs of Lombardy 
had become lord of Vercelli, Alessandria, Novara, and Tor- 
tona, and had amassed great riches, finding his end approach, 
and having no children, left his wife Beatrice heiress of his 
estates, and arranged with his friends that a marriage should 
be effected between her and Filippo. By this union Filippo 
became powerful, and re-acquired Milan and the whole of 
Lombardy. By way of being grateful for these numerous 
favours, as princes commonly are, he accused Beatrice of 
adultery and caused her to be put to death. Finding him- 
self now possessed of greater power, he began to think of 
warring with Tuscany and of prosecuting the designs of 
Giovan Galeazzo his father. 

Ladislaus king of Naples, at his death, left to his sister 
Giovanna the kingdom and a large army, under the command 
of the principal leaders of Italy, amongst the first of whom 
was Sforza of Cotignuola, reputed by the soldiery of that 
period a very valiant man. The queen, to shun the dis- 
grace of having kept about her person a certain Pandolfello, 
whom she had brought up, took for her husband Giacopo 
della Marca, a Frenchman of the royal line, on the condition 
that he should be content to be called prince of Tarento, and 
leave to her the title and government of the kingdom. But 
the soldiery, upon his arrival in Naples, proclaimed him 
king ; so that betwixt the husband and the wife wars en- 
sued ; and although they contended with various success, the 
queen at length obtained the superiority, and became an 
enemy of the pope. Upon this, in order to reduce her to 
necessity, and that she might be compelled to throw herself 
into his lap, Sforza suddenly withdrew from her service with- 
out giving her any previous notice of his intention to do so. 
She thus found herself at once unarmed, and not having any 
other resource sought the assistance of Alfonzo king of Arra- 

44 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. i. ch. 7. a.d. H23. 

gon and Sicily, adopted him as her son, and engaged Brac- 
cio of Montone as her captain, who was of equal reputation 
in arms with Sforza, and inimical to the pope, on account of 
his having taken possession of Perugia and some other places 
belonging to the church. After this, peace was made between 
the queen and the pontiff ; but king Alfonzo, expecting she 
would treat him as she had done her husband, endeavoured 
secretly to make himself master of the strongholds; but, pos- 
sessing acute observation, she was beforehand with him, and 
fortified herself in the castle of Naples. Suspicions increas- 
ing between them, they had recourse to arms, and the queen, 
with the assistance of Sforza, who again resumed her service, 
drove Alfonzo out of Naples, deprived him of the succession, 
and adopted Louis of Anjou in his stead. Hence arose new 
contests between Braccio, who took the part of Alfonzo, and 
Sforza, who defended the cause of the queen. In the 
course of the war, Sforza was drowned in endeavouring to 
pass the river Pescara ; the queen was thus again unarmed, 
and would have been driven out of the kingdom, but for the 
assistance of Filippo Visconti, duke of Milan, who compelled 
Alfonzo to return to Arragon. Braccio, undaunted at the 
departure of Alfonzo, continued the enterprise against the 
queen, and besieged L' Aquilla ; but the pope, thinking the 
greatness of Braccio injurious to the church, received into 
his pay Francesco, the son of Sforza, who went in pursuit of 
Braccio to L' Aquilla, where he routed and slew him. Of 
Braccio remained Oddo his son, from whom the pope took 
Perugia, and left him the state of Montone alone ; but he 
was shortly afterwards slain in Romagna, in the service of 
the Florentines ; so that of those who had fought under 
Braccio, Niccolo Piccinino remained of greatest reputation. 

Having continued our general narration nearly to the 
period which we at first proposed to reach, what remains is 
of little importance, except the war which the Florentines 
and Venetians carried on against Filippo duke of Milan, of 
which an account will be given when we speak particularly of 
Florence. I shall therefore continue it no further, briefly ex- 
plaining the condition of Italy in respect of her princes and her 
arms, at the period to which we have now come. Joan II. held 
Naples, La Marca, the Patrimony, and Romagna ; some of 
these places obeyed the church, while others were held by 

B. i. ch. 7. a.d. 1423. ITALY — ITS WARLIKE CONDITION. 45 

vicars or tyrants, as Ferrara, Modena, and Reggio, by those 
of the house of Este ; Faenza by the Manfredi ; Imola by 
the Alidossi ; Furli by the Ordelaffi ; Rimini and Pesaro by 
the Malatesti ; and Camerino by those of Varano. Part of 
Lombardy was subject to the Duke Filippo, part to the 
Venetians ; for all those who had held single states were set 
aside, except the house of Gonzaga, which ruled in Mantua. 
The greater part of Tuscany was subject to the Florentines. 
Lucca and Sienna alone were governed by their own laws ; 
Lucca was under the Guinigi ; Sienna was free. The Genoese, 
being sometimes free, at others subject to the kings of France 
or the Visconti, lived unrespected, and mav be enumerated 
among the minor powers. 

None of the principal states were armed with their own 
proper forces. Duke Filippo kept himself shut up in his 
apartments, and would not allow himself to be seen ; his 
wars were managed by commissaries. The Venetians, when 
they directed their attention to terra firma, threw off those 
arms which had made them terrible upon the seas, and falling 
into the customs of Italy, submitted their forces to the direc- 
tion of others. The practice of arms being unsuitable to 
priests or women, the pope and Queen Joan of Naples were 
compelled by necessity to submit to the same system which 
others practised from defect of judgment. The Florentines 
also adopted the same custom, for, having, by their fre- 
quent divisions, destroyed the nobility, and their republic being 
wholly in the hands of men brought up to trade, they followed 
the usages and example of others. 

Thus the arms of Italy were either in the hands of the 
lesser princes, or of men who possessed no state ; for the 
minor princes did not adopt the practice of arms from any 
desire of glory, but for the acquisition of either property or 
safety. The others (those who possessed no state) being 
bred to arms from their infancy, were acquainted with no 
other art, and pursued war for emolument, or to confer honour 
upon themselves. The most noticed amongst the latter were, 
Carmignola, Francesco Sforza, Niccolo Piccinino the pupil of 
Braccio, Angolo della Pergola, Lorenzo di Micheletto Atten- 
duli, il Tartaglia, Giacopaccio, Cecolino da Perugia, Niccolo 
da Tolentino, Guido Torello, Antonio dal Ponte ad Era, and 
many others. With these, were those lords of whom I have 

46 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. n. ch. 1. a.d. 14». 

before spoken, to which may be added the barons of Rome, 
the Colonnesi, and the Orsini, with other lords and gentlemen 
of the kingdoms of Naples and Lombardy, who, being con- 
stantly in arms, had such an understanding among themselves, 
and so contrived to accommodate things to their own conve- 
nience, that of those who were at war, most commonly both 
sides were losers ; and they had made the practice of arm3 
so totally ridiculous, that the most ordinary leader, possessed 
of true valour, would have covered those men with disgrace, 
whom, with so little prudence, Italy honoured. 

With these idle princes and such contemptible arms, my 
history must therefore be filled ; to which, before I descend, 
it will be necessary, as was at first proposed, to speak of 
the origin of Florence, that it may be clearly understood 
what was the state of the city in those times, and by what 
means, through the labours of a thousand years, she became 
so imbecile. 



The custom of ancient republics to plant colonies, and the advantage of it 
— Increased population tends to make countries more healthy — Origin of 
Florence — Aggrandisement of Florence — Origin of the name of Florence 
— Destruction of Florence by Totila— The Florentines take Fiesole — 
The first division in Florence, and the cause of it — Buondelmonti — 
Buondelmonti slain — Guelphs and Ghibellines in Florence — Guelphic 
families — Ghibelline families — The two factions come to terms. 

Amongst the great and wonderful institutions of the re- 
publics and principalities of antiquity that have now gone 
into disuse, was tljat by means of which towns and cities 
were from time to time established ; and there is nothing 
more worthy the attention of a great prince, or of a well- 
regulated republic, or that confers so many advantages upon 
a province, as the settlment of new places, where men 
are drawn together for mutual accommodation and defence. 

B. ii. ch. 1. a.d. 1010. ADVANTAGES OF COLONIZATION. 47 

This may easily be done, by sending people to reside in recently 
acquired or uninhabited countries. Besides causing the 
establishment of new cities, these removals render a con- 
quered country more secure, and keep the inhabitants of a 
province properly distributed. Thus, deriving the greatest 
attainable comfort, the inhabitants increase rapidly, are more 
prompt to attack others, and defend themselves with greater 
assurance. This custom, by the unwise practice of princes 
and republics, having gone into desuetude, the ruin and weak- 
ness of territories has followed ; for this ordination is that 
by which alone empires are made secure, and countries 
become populated. Safety is the result of it ; because 
the colony which a prince establishes in a newly ac- 
quired country, is like a fortress and a guard, to keep the 
inhabitants in fidelity and obedience. Neither can a province 
be wholly occupied and preserve a proper distribution of 
its inhabitants without this regulation ; for all districts are 
not equally healthy, and hence some will abound to overflow- 
ing, whilst others are void ; and if there be no method of with- 
drawing them from places in which they increase too rapidly, 
and planting them where they are too few, the country 
would soon be wasted ; for one part would become a desert, 
and the other a dense and wretched population. And, as 
nature cannot repair this disorder, it is necessary that indus- 
try should effect it ; for unhealthy localities become whole- 
some when a numerous population is brought into them. 
With cultivation the earth becomes fruitful, and the air is 
purified with tires — remedies which nature cannot provide. 
The city of Venice proves the correctness of these remarks. 
Being placed in a marshy and unwholesome situation, it 
became healthy only by the number of industrious individuals 
who were drawn together. Pisa too, on account of its un- 
wholesome air, was never filled with inhabitants, till the 
Saracens, having destroyed Genoa and rendered her rivers 
unnavigable, caused the Genoese to migrate thither in vast 
numbers, and thus render her populous and powerful. Where 
the use of colonies is not adopted, conquered countries are 
held with great difficulty ; districts once uninhabited still 
remain so, and those which populate quickly are not relieved. 
Hence it is that many places in the world, and particularly in 
It ily, in comparison of ancient times, have become deserts. 

48 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. n. ch. 1. a.d. 1010. 

This has wholly arisen and proceeded from the negligence of 
princes, who have lost all appetite for true glory, and of re- 
publics, which no longer possess institutions that deserve 
praise. In ancient times, by means of colonies, new cities 
frequently arose, and those already begun were enlarged, as 
was the case with Florence, which had its beginning from 
Fiesole, and its increase from colonies. 

It is exceedingly probable, as Dante and Giovanni Villani 
show, that the city of Fiesole, being situate upon the summit 
of the mountain, in order that her markets might be more 
frequented, and afford greater accommodation for those who 
brought merchandise, would appoint the place in which to 
hold them, not upon the hill, but in the plain, betwixt the 
foot of the mountain and the river Arno. I imagine these 
markets to have occasioned the first erections that were made 
in those places, and to have induced merchants to wish for 
commodious warehouses for the reception of their goods, and 
which, in time, became substantial buildings. And afterwards, 
when the Romans, having conquered the Carthaginians, ren- 
dered Italy secure from foreign invasion, these buildings 
would greatly increase ; for men never endure inconveniences 
unless some powerful necessity compels them. Thus, 
although the fear of war induces a willingness to occupy 
places strong and difficult of access, as soon as the cause 
of alarm is removed, men gladly resort to more convenient 
and easily attainable localities. Hence, the security to which 
the reputation of the Roman republic gave birth, caused 
the habitations, having begun in the manner described, to 
increase so much as to form a town, this was at first called 
the Villa Arnina. After this occurred the civil wars between 
Marius and Sylla ; then those of Caesar and Pompey ; and 
next those of the murderers of Caesar, and the parties who 
undertook to avenge his death. Therefore, first by Sylla, 
and afterwards by the three Roman citizens, who, having 
avenged the death of Caesar, divided the empire among them- 
selves, colonies were sent to Fiesole, which, either in part or 
in whole, fixed their habitations in the plain, near to the 
then rising town. By this increase, the place became so filled 
with dwellings, that it might with propriety be enumerated 
amongst the cities of Italy. 

There are various opinions concerning the derivation of 

B. ii. ch. 1. a.d.1010. ORIGIN OF FLORENCE. 49 

the word Florentia. Some suppose it to come from Florinus, 
one of the principal persons of the colony ; others think it 
was originally not Florentia, but Fluentia, and suppose the 
word derived from fluente* or flowing of the Arno ; and in 
support of their opinion, adduce a passage from Pliny, who 
says, tk the Fluentini are near the flowing of the Arno." This, 
however, may be incorrect, for Pliny speaks of the locality of 
the Florentini, not of the name by which they were known. 
And it seems as if the word Fluentini were a corruption, 
because Frontinus and Cornelius Tacitus, who wrote at nearly 
the same period as Pliny, call them Florentia and Florentini; 
for, in the time of Tiberius, they were governed like the other 
cities of Italy. Besides, Cornelius refers to the coming of 
ambassadors from the Florentines, to beg of the emperor that 
the waters of the Chiane might not be allowed to overflow 
their country ; and it is not at all reasonable that the city 
should have two names at the same time. Therefore I think ' 
that, however derived, the name was always Florentia, and 
that whatever the origin might be, it occurred under the' 
Roman empire, and began to be noticed by writers in the 
times of the first emperors. 

When the Roman empire was afflicted by the barbarians, 
Florence was destroyed by Totila, king of the Ostrogoths ; 
and after a period of two hundred and fifty years, rebuilt by 
Charlemagne ; from whose time, till the year 1215, she parti- 
cipated in the fortune of the rest of Italy ; and, during this 
period, first the descendants of Charles, then the Berengarii, 
and lastly the German emperors, governed her. as in our 
general treatise we have shown. Nor could the Florentines, 
during those ages, increase in numbers, or effect anything | 
worthy of memory, on account of the influence of those to 
whom they were subject. Nevertheless, in the year 1010, 
upon the feast of St. Romolo, a solemn day with the Fiesolani, 
they took and destroyed Fiesole, which must have been per- 
formed either with consent of the emperors, or during the 
interim from the death of one to the creation of his successor, 
when all assumed a larger share of liberty. But when the 
pontiffs acquired greater influence, and the authority of the 
German emperors was in its wane, all the places of Italy 
governed themselves with less respect for the prince ; so that, 
in the time of Henry III. the mind of the country was 


50 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. n. ch. 1. a.d. 1215. 

divided between the emperor and the church. However, the 
Florentines kept themselves united till the year 1215, ren- 
dering obedience to the ruling power, and anxious only to 
preserve their own safety. But, as the diseases w r hich attack 
our bodies are more dangerous and mortal in proportion as 
they are delayed, so Florence, though late to take part in 
the sects of Italy, was afterwards the more afflicted by them. 
The cause of her first division is well known, having been 
recorded by Dante and many other writers ; I shall, however, 
briefly notice it. 

Amongst the most powerful families of Florence were the 
Buondelmonti and the Uberti: next to these were the 
Amidei and the Donati. Of the Donati family there was a 
rich widow who had a daughter of exquisite beauty, for 
whom, in her own mind, she had fixed upon Buondelmonti, 
a young gentleman, the head of the Buondelmonti family, 
as her husband; but either from negligence, or because 
she thought it might be accomplished at any time, she had 
not made known her intention, when it happened that the 
cavalier betrothed himself to a maiden of the Amidei family. 
This grieved the Donati widow exceedingly ; but she hoped, 
with her daughter's beauty, to disturb the arrangement before 
the celebration of the marriage ; and from an upper apart- 
ment, seeing Buondelmonti approach her house alone, 
she descended, and as he was passing she said to him, " I 
am glad to learn you have chosen a wife, although I had 
reserved my daughter for you ;" and, pushing the door open, 
presented her to his view. The cavalier, seeing the beauty 
of the girl, which was very uncommon, and considering the 
nobility of her blood, and her portion not being inferior to 
that of the lady whom he had chosen, became inflamed with 
such an ardent desire to possess her, that, not thinking of the 
promise given, or the injury he committed in breaking it, or of 
the evils which his breach of faith might bring upon himself, 
said, " Since you have reserved her for me, I should be very 
ungrateful indeed to refuse her, being yet at liberty to 
choose ;"' and without any delay married her. As soon as 
the fact became known, the Amidei and the Uberti, whose 
families were allied, were filled with rage, and having as- 
sembled with many others, connexions of the parties, they 
concluded that the injury could not be tolerated without 

B. 1. a.d. 1212. GUELPHS AND GHIBELLINES. 51 

disgrace, and that the only vengeance proportionate to 
the enormity of the offence would be to put Buondel- 
monti to death. And although some took into consideration 
the evils that might ensue upon it, Mosca Lamberti said, that 
those who talk of many things effect nothing, using that 
trite and common adage, " Cosa fatta capo ha." Thereupon, 
they appointed to the execution of the murder Mosca him- 
self, Stiatti Uberti, Lambertuccio Amidei, and Oderigo 
Fifanti, who, on the morning of Easter day, concealed them- 
selves in a house of the Amidei, situate between the old 
bridge and St. Stephen's, and as Buondelmonti was passing 
upon a white horse, thinking it as easy a matter to 
forget an injury as reject an alliance, he was attacked by 
them at the foot of the bridge, and slain close by a statue of 
Mars. This murder divided the whole city ; one party es- 
pousing the cause of the Buondelmonti, the other that of the 
Uberti ; and as these families possessed men and means of 
defence, they contended with each other for many years, 
without one being able to destroy the other. 

Florence continued in these troubles till the time of 
Frederick II., who, being king of Naples, endeavoured to 
strengthen himself against the church ; and, to give greater 
stability to his power in Tuscany, favoured the Uberti and 
their followers, who, with his assistance, expelled the Buon- 
delmonti ; thus our city, as all the rest of Italy had 
long time been, became divided into Guelphs and Ghibellines ; 
and as it will not be superfluous, I shall record the names of 
the families which took part with each faction. Those who 
adopted the cause of the Guelphs were the Buondelmonti, 
Nerli, Rossi, Frescobaldi, Mozzi, Bardi, Pulci, Gherardini, 
Foraboschi, Bagnesi, Guidalotti, Sacchetti, Manieri, Lucar- 
desi, Chiaramontesi, Compiobbesi, Cavalcanti, Giandonati, 
Gianfigliazzi, Scali, Gualterotti, Importuni, Bostichi, Torna- 
quinci, Vecchietti, Tosinghi, Arrigucci, Agli, Sizi, Adimari, 
Visdomini, Donati, Pazzi, della Bella, Ardinghi, Tedaldi, 
Cerchi. Of the Ghibelline faction were the Uberti, Ma- 
nelli, Ubriachi, Fifanti, Amidei, Infangati, Malespini, Scolari, 
Guidi, Galli, Cappiardi, Lamberti, Soldanieri, Cipriani, 
Toschi, Amieri, Palermini, Migliorelli, Pigli, Barucci, Cattani, 
Agolanti, Brunelleschi, Caponsacchi, Elisei, Abati, Tidaldini, 
Giuochi, and Galigai. Besides the noble families on each 

e 2 

52 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. n. ch. 2. a.d. 1223 

side above enumerated, each party was joined by many of 
the higher ranks of the people, so that the whole city was 
corrupted with this division. The Guelphs being expelled, 
took refuge in the Upper Val d'Arno, where part of their 
castles and strongholds were situated, and where they 
strengthened and fortified themselves against the attacks of 
their enemies. But, upon the death of Frederick, the most 
unbiassed men, and those who had the greatest authority 
with the people, considered that it would be better to effect 
the re-union of the city, than, by keeping her divided, cause 
her ruin. They therefore induced the Guelphs to forget their 
injuries and return, and the Ghibellines to lay aside their 
jealousies and receive them with cordiality. 


Now form of government in Florence — Military establishment* — The great- 
ness of Florence — Movements of the Ghibellines — Ghibellines driven 
out of the city — Guelphs routed by the forces of the king of Naples — 
Florence in the power of the king of Naples — Project of the Ghibellines 
to destroy Florence, opposed by Farinata degli Uberti — Adventures of 
the Guelphs of Florence — The pope gives his standard to the Guelphs — 
Fears of the Ghibellines and their preparations for the defence of their 
power — Establishment of trades' companies, and their authority — Count 
Guido Novello expelled — He goes to Prato — The Guelphs restored to 
the city — The Ghibellines quit Florence — The Florentines reform the 
government in favour of the Guelphs — The pope endeavours to restore 
the Ghibellines and excommunicates Florence — Pope Nicholas III. en- 
deavours to abate the power of Charles, king of Naples. 

Being united, the Florentines thought the time favourable 
for the ordination of a free government ; and that it would 
be desirable to provide their means of defence before the 
new emperor should acquire strength. They therefore divided 
the city into six parts, and elected twelve citizens, two for 
each sixth, to govern the whole. These were called Anziani, 
and Avere elected annually. To remove the cause of those 
enmities which had been observed to arise from judicial de- 
cisions, they provided two judges from some other state, one 
called captain of the people, the other podesta, or provost, 
whose duty it was to decide in cases, whether civil or criminal, 
which occurred amongst the people. And as order cannot 

B. if. ch. 2. a.d. 1237. MILITARY ESTABLISHMENTS. 53 

be preserved without a sufficient force for the defence of it, 
they appointed twenty banners in the city, and seventy-six in 
the country, upon the rolls of which the names of all the 
youth were entered ; and it was ordered that every one 
should appear armed, under his banner, whenever summoned, 
whether by the captain of the people or the Anziani. They 
had ensigns according to the kind of arms they used, the 
bowmen being under one ensign, and the swordsmen, or those 
who carried a target, under another; and every year, upon the 
day of Pentecost, ensigns were given with great pomp to the 
new men, and new leaders were appointed for the whole es- 
tablishment. To give importance to their armies, and to 
serve as a point of refuge for those who were exhausted in the 
fight, and from which, having become refreshed, they might 
again make head against the enemy, they provided a large 
car, drawn by two oxen, covered with red cloth, upon which 
was an ensign of white and red. When they intended to 
assemble the army, this car was brought into the New Market, 
and delivered with pomp to the heads of the people. 
To give solemnity to their enterprises, they had a bell 
called Martinella, which was rung during a whole month be- 
fore the forces left the city, in order that the enemy might 
have time to provide for his defence ; so great was the virtue 
then existing amongst men, and with so much generosity of 
mind were they governed, that as it is now considered a brave 
and prudent act to assail an unprovided enemy, in those 
days it would have been thought disgraceful, and productive 
of only a fallacious advantage. This bell was also taken 
with the army, and served to regulate the keeping and re- 
lief of guard, and other matters necessary in the practice of 

With these ordinations, civil and military, the Florentines 
established their liberty. Nor is it possible to imagine the 
power and authority Florence in a short time acquired. She 
became not only the head of Tuscany, but was enumerated 
amongst the first cities of Italy, and would have attained 
greatness of the most exalted kind, had she not been afflicted 
with the continual divisions of her citizens. They remained 
under this government ten years, during which time they 
compelled the people of Pistoia, Arezzo, and Sienna, to 
enter into league with them ; and returning with the army 

54 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. n. ch. 2. A. d. 1237. 

from Sienna, they took Volterra, destroyed some castles, and 
led the inhabitants to Florence. All these enterprises were 
effected by the advice of the Guelphs, who were much more 
powerful than the Ghibellines, for the latter were hated by the 
people as well on account of their haughty bearing whilst in 
power, during the time of Frederick, as because the church 
party was in more favour than that of the emperor ; for with 
the aid of the church they hoped to preserve their liberty, 
but, with the emperor, they were apprehensive of losing it. 

The Ghibellines, in the meantime, finding themselves di- 
vested of authority, could not rest, but watched for an occa- 
sion of re-possessing the government ; and they thought the 
favourable moment come, when they found that Manfred, 
son of Frederick, had made himself sovereign of Naples, 
and reduced the power of the church. They, therefore, 
secretly communicated with him, to resume the management 
of the state, but could not prevent their proceedings from 
coming to the knowledge of the Anziani, who immediately 
summoned the Ubcrti to appear before them ; but instead of 
obeying, they took arms and fortified themselves in their 
houses. The people, enraged at this, armed themselves, and 
with the assistance of the Guelphs, compelled them to quit 
the city, and, with the whole Ghibelline party, withdraw to 
Sienna. They then asked assistance of Manfred, king of 
Naples, and by the able conduct of Farinata degii Uberti, 
the Guelphs were routed by the king's forces upon the river 
Arbia, with so great slaughter, that those who escaped, 
thinking Florence lost, did not return thither, but sought 
refuge at Lucca. 

Manfred sent the Count Giordano, a man of considerable 
reputation in arms, to command his forces. He, after the vic- 
tory, went with the Ghibellines to Florence, and reduced the 
city entirely to the king's authority, annulling the magistracies 
and every other institution that retained any appearance of 
freedom. This injury, committed with little prudence, ex- 
cited the ardent animosity of the people, and their enmity 
against the Ghibellines, whose ruin it eventually caused, was 
increased to the highest pitch. The necessities of the king- 
dom compelling the Count Giordano to return to Naples, he 
left at Florence as regal vicar the Count Guido Novello, lord 
of Casentino, who called a council of Ghibellines at Empoli, 

B. 2. a. d. 1205. THE TOPE'S STANDARD. 55 

where it was concluded, with only one dissenting voice, that 
in order to preserve their power in Tuscany, it would be 
necessary to destroy Florence, as the only means of compelling 
the Guelphs to withdraw their support from the party of the 
church. To this so cruel a sentence, given against such a noble 
city, there was not a citizen who offered any opposition, except 
Farinata degli Uberti, who openly defended her, saying he 
had not encountered so many dangers and difficulties, but in 
the hope of returning to his country ; that he still wished 
for what he had so earnestly sought, nor would he refuse the 
blessing which fortune now presented, even though by using 
it, he were to become as much an enemy of those who thought 
otherwise, as he had been of the Guelphs ; and that no one 
need be afraid the city would occasion the ruin of their 
country, for he hoped that the valour which had expelled 
the Guelphs, would be sufficient to defend her. Farinata 
was a man of undaunted resolution, and excelled greatly in 
military affairs : being the head of the Ghibelline party, and 
in high estimation with Manfred, his authority put a stop to 
the discussion, and induced the rest to think of some other 
means of preserving their power. 

The Lucchese being threatened with the anger of the count, 
for affording refuge to the Guelphs after the battle of the 
Arbia, could allow them to remain no longer ; so leaving 
Lucca, they went to Bologna, from whence they were called 
by the Guelphs of Parma against the Ghibellines of that 
city, where, having overcome the enemy, the possessions of 
the latter were assigned to them ; so that having increased 
in honours and riches, and learning that Pope Clement had 
invited Charles of Anjou to take the kingdom from Manfred, 
they sent ambassadors to the pope to offer him their services. 
His holiness not only received them as friends, but gave 
them a standard upon which his insignia were wrought. 
It was ever after borne by the Guelphs in battle, and is 
still used at Florence. Charles having taken the kingdom 
from Manfred, and slain him, to which success the Guelphs 
of Florence had contributed, their party became more 
powerful, and that of the Ghibellines proportionably weaker. 
In consequence of this, those who with Count Novello go- 
verned the city, thought it would be advisable to attach 
to themselves, with some concession, the people whom they 

56 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. rr. ch. 2. a.d. 12C5. 

had previously aggravated with every species of injury; but 
these remedies which, if applied before the necessity came, 
would have been beneficial, being offered when they were no 
longer considered favours, not only failed of producing any be- 
neficial result to the donors, but hastened their ruin. Thinking, 
however, to win them to their interests, they restored some of 
the honours of which they had deprived them. They elected 
thirty-six citizens from the higher rank of the people, to 
whom, with two cavalieri, knights or gentlemen, brought 
from Bologna, the reformation of the government of the city 
was confided. As soon as they met, they classed the whole 
of the people according to their arts or trades, and over each 
art appointed a magistrate, whose duty was to distribute 
justice to those placed under him. They gave to each company 
or trade a banner, under which every man was expected tc 
appear armed, whenever the city required it. These arts 
were at first twelve, seven major, and five minor. The minor 
arts were afterwards increased to fourteen, so that the whole 
made, as at present, twenty-one. The thirty-six reformers 
also effected other changes for the common good. 

Count Guido proposed to lay a tax upon the citizens for 
the support of the soldiery ; but during the discussion found 
so much difficulty, that he did not dare to use force to obtain 
it ; and thinking he had now lost the government, called 
together the leaders of the Ghibellines, and they determined 
to wrest from the people those powers which they had with 
so little prudence conceded. When they thought they had 
sufficient force, the thirty-six being assembled, they caused a 
tumult to be raised, which so alarmed them that they retired 
to their houses, when suddenly the banners of the Arts were 
unfurled, and many armed men drawn to them. These, 
learning that Count Guido and his followers were at St. 
John's, moved towards the Holy Trinity, and chose Giovanni 
Soldanieri for their leader. The count, on the other hand, 
being informed where the people were assembled, proceeded 
in that direction ; nor did the people shun the fight, for, 
meeting their enemies where now stands the residence of 
the Tornaquinci, they put the count to flight, with the loss 
of many of his followers. Terrified with this result, 
he was afraid his enemies would attack him in the night, and 
that his own party, finding themselves beaten, would murder 

n it. ch. 2. a.d. 1271. GOVERNMENT REFORMED. 57 

him. This impression took such hold of his mind that, with- 
out attempting any other remedy, he sought his safety rather 
in flight than in combat, and, contrary to the advice of the 
rectors, went with all his people to Prato. But, on finding 
himself in a place of safety, his fears fled ; perceiving his 
error he wished to correct it, and on the following day, as soon 
as light appeared, he returned with his people to Florence, to 
enter the city by force which he had abandoned in cowardice. 
But his design did not succeed ; for the people, who had had 
difficulty in expelling him, kept him out with facility ; so that 
with grief and shame he went to the Casentino, and the 
Ghibellines withdrew to their villas. 

The people, being victorious, by the advice of those who 
loved the good of the republic, determined to re-unite the 
city, and recall all the citizens as well Guelph as Ghibelline, 
who yet remained without. The Guelphs returned, after 
having been expelled six years ; the recent offences of the 
Ghibellines were forgiven, and themselves restored to their 
country. They were, however, most cordially hated, both by 
the people and the Guelphs, for the latter could not forget 
their exile, and the former but too well remembered their 
tyranny when they were in power ; the result was, that the 
minds of neither party became settled. 

Whilst affairs were in this state at Florence, a report pre- 
vailed that Corradino, nephew of Manfred, was coming with 
a force from Germany, for the conquest of Naples ; this gave 
the Ghibellines hope of recovering power, and the Guelphs, 
considering how they should provide for their security, re- 
quested assistance from Charles for their defence, in case of 
the passage of Corradino. The coming of the forces of Charles 
rendered the Guelphs insolent, and so alarmed the Ghibel- 
lines that they fled the city, without being driven out, two 
days before the arrival of the troops. 

The Ghibellines having departed, the Florentines re- 
organised the government of the city, and elected twelve men 
who, as the supreme power, were to hold their magistracy two 
months, and were not called Anziani or " ancients," but Buoni 
Uomini or "good men." They also formed a council of eighty 
citizens, which they called the Credenza. Besides these, from 
each sixth, thirty citizens were chosen, who, with the Credenza 
and the twelve Buoni Uornini, were called the General Council. 

58 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. ix. ch. 2. a.d. 1277. 

They also appointed another council of one hundred and 
twenty citizens, elected from the people and the nobility, to 
which all those things were finally referred that had under- 
gone the consideration of the other councils, and which dis- 
tributed the offices of the republic. Having formed this go- 
vernment, they strengthened the Guelphic party by appoint- 
ing its friends to the principal offices of state, and a variety of 
other measures, that they might be enabled to defend them- 
selves against the Ghibellines, whose property they divided 
into three parts, one of which was applied to the public use, 
another to the Capitani, and the third was assigned to the 
Guelphs, in satisfaction of the injuries they had received. 
The pope too, in order to keep Tuscany in the Guelphic in- 
terest, made Charles imperial vicar over the province. Whilst 
the Florentines, by virtue of the new government, preserved 
their influence at home by laws, and abroad with arms, the 
pope died, and after a dispute, which continued two years, 
Gregory X. was elected, being then in Syria, where he had 
long lived ; but not having witnessed the working of parties, 
he did not estimate them in the manner his predecessors had 
done, and passing through Florence on his way to France, he 
thought it would be the office of a good pastor to unite the 
city, and so far succeeded that the Florentines consented to 
receive the Syndics of the Ghibellines in Florence to consider 
the terms of their recall. They effected an agreement, but 
the Ghibellines without were so terrified that they did not 
venture to return. The pope laid the whole blame upon the 
city, and being enraged excommunicated her, in which state 
of contumacy she remained as long as the pontiff lived ; but 
was re-blessed by his successor Innocent V. 

The pontificate was afterwards occupied by Nicholas III. of 
the Orsini family. It has to be remarked that it was invaria- 
1 bly the custom of the popes to be jealous of those whose 
power in Italy had become great, even when its growth had 
been occasioned by the favours of the church ; and as they 
always endeavoured to destroy it, frequent troubles and 
changes were the result. Their fear of a powerful person 
caused them to increase the influence of one previously weak ; 
his becoming great caused him also to be feared, and his being 
feared made them seek the means of destroying him. This 
mode of thinking and operation occasioned the kingdom of 


B. ir. ch. 3. a.d. 1282. POLITICAL CHANGES. 51 

Naples to be taken from Manfred and given to Charles, but 
as soon as the latter became powerful his ruin was resolved 
upon. Actuated by these motives, Nicholas III. contrived 
that, with the influence of the emperor, the government of 
Tuscany should be taken from Charles, and Latino his legate 
was therefore sent into the province in the name of the 


Changes in Florence — The Ghibellines recalled — New form of government 
in Florence— The Signory created — Victor}' over the Aretins — The Gon- 
falonier of Justice created — Ubaldo Ruffoli the first Gonfalonier — Giano 
del la Bella— New reform by his advice — Giano della Bella becomes a 
voluntary exile — Dissensions between the people and the nobility — The 
tumults composed — Reform of government — Public buildings — The 
prosperous state of the city. 

Florence was at this time in a very unhappy condition ; for 
the great Guelphic families had become insolent, and set aside 
the authority of the magistrates ; so that murders and other 
atrocities were daily committed, and the perpetrators escaped 
unpunished^ under the protection of one or other of the 
nobility. The leaders of the people, in order to restrain this 
insolence, determined to recall those who had been expelled, 
and thus give the legate an opportunity of uniting the city. 
The Ghibellines returned, and, instead of twelve governors, 
fourteen were appointed, seven for each party, who held 
their office one year, and were to be chosen by the pope. 
The Florentines lived under this government two years, till 
the pontificate of Martin, who restored to Charles all the 
authority which had been taken from him by Nicholas, so 
that parties were again active in Tuscany ; for the Florentines 
took arms against the emperor's governor, and to deprive the 
Ghibellines of power, and restrain the nobility, established a 
new form of government. This was in the year 1282, and 
the companies of the Arts, since magistrates had been appointed 
and colours given to them, had acquired so great influence, 
that of their own authority they ordered that, instead of four- 
teen citizens, three should be appointed and called Priors, to 

60 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. D. n. en. 3. a.d. 1282. 

hold the government of the republic two months, and chosen 
from either the people or the nobility. After the expiration 
of the first magistracy they were augmented to six, that one 
might be chosen from each sixth of the city, and this number 
was preserved till the year 1342, when the city was divided 
into quarters, and the priors became eight, although upon 
some occasions during the interim they weie twelve. 

This government, as will be seen hereafter, occasioned the 
ruin of the nobility; for the people by various causes excluded 
them from all participation in it, and then trampled upon 
them without respect. The nobles at first, owing to their 
divisions amongst themselves, made no opposition ; and each 
being anxious to rob the other of influence in the state, they 
lost it altogether. To this government a palace was given, in 
which they were to reside constantly, and all requisite officers 
were appointed ; it having been previously the custom of 
councils and magistrates to assemble in churches. At first 
they were only called Priors, but to increase their distinction 
the word Signori, or Lords, was soon afterwards adopted. The 
Florentines remained for some time in domestic quiet, during 
which they made war with the Aretins for having expelled 
the Guelphs, and obtained a complete victory over them at 
Campaldino. The city being increased in riches and 
population, it was found expedient to extend the walls, the 
circle of which was enlarged to the extent it at present re- 
mains, although its diameter was previously only the space 
between the old bridge and the church of St. Lorenzo. 

Wars abroad and peace within the city had caused the 
Guelph and Ghibelline factions to become almost extinct; 
and the only party feeling which seemed occasionally to glow, 
was that which naturally exists in all cities between the higher 
classes and the people ; for the latter wishing to live in con- 
formity with the laws, and the former to be themselves the 
rulers of the people, it was not possible for them to abide in 
perfect amity together. This ungenial disposition, whilst 
their fear of the Ghibellines kept them in order, did not dis- 
cover itself, but no sooner were they subdued than it broke 
forth, and not a day passed without some of the populace being 
injured, whilst the laws were insufficient to procure redress, 
for every noble with his relations and friends defended him- 
self against the forces of the Priors and the Capitano. To 3. A.D. 1282. GIANO DELLA BELLA. 61 

remedy this evil the leaders of the Arts' companies ordered that 
every Signory at the time of entering upon the duties of office 
should appoint a Gonfalonier of Justice, chosen from the people, 
and place a thousand armed men at his disposal divided into 
twenty companies of fifty men each, and that he with his gonfa- 
lon or banner and his forces should be ready to enforce the ex- 
ecution of the laws whenever called upon either by the Signors 
themselves or the Capitano. The first elected to this high 
office was Ubaldo Ruffoli. This man unfurled his gonfalon, 
and destroyed the houses of the Galletti, on account of a mem- 
ber of that family having slain one of the Florentine people 
in France. The violent animosities amongst the nobility 
enabled the companies of the Arts to establish this law with 
facility; and the former no sooner saw the provision which 
had been made against them than they felt the acrimonious 
spirit with which it was enforced. At first it impressed them 
with great terror; but they soon after returned to their accus- 
tomed insolence, for one or more of their body always making 
part of the Signory, gave them opportunities of impeding the 
Gonfalonier, so that he could not perform the duties of his 
office. Besides this, the accuser always required a witness of 
the injury he had received, and no one dared to give evidence 
against the nobility. Thus in a short time Florence agaiu 
fell into the same disorders as before, and the tyranny exer- 
cised against the people was as great as ever ; for the deci- 
sions of justice were either prevented or delayed, and sen- 
tences were not carried into execution. 

In this unhappy state, the people not knowing what to do, 
Giano della Bella, of a very noble family, and a lover of 
liberty, encouraged the heads of the Arts to reform the con- 
stitution of the city ; and by his advice it was ordered that 
the Gonfalonier should reside with the Priors, and have four 
thousand men at his command. They deprived the nobility 
of the right to sit in the Signory. They condemned the 
associates of a criminal to the same penalty as himself, and 
ordered that public report should be taken as evidence. By 
these laws, which were called the ordinations of justice, the 
people acquired great influence, and Giano della Bella not a 
small share of trouble ; for he was thoroughly hated by the 
great, as the destroyer of their power, whilst the opulent 
among the people envied him, for they thought he possessed 

62 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. 11. ch. 3. a.d. 1282. 

too great authority. This became very evident upon the 
first occasion that presented itself. 

It happened that a man from the class of the people was 
killed during a riot, in which several of the nobility had 
taken a part, and amongst the rest Corso Donati, to 
whom, as the most forward of the party, the death was 
attributed. He was therefore taken by the captain of the 
people, and whether he was really innocent of the crime or 
the Capitano was afraid of condemning him, he was acquitted. 
This acquittal displeased the people so much, that, seizing 
their arms, they ran to the house of Giano della Bella, to beg 
that he would compel the execution of those laws which 
he had himself made. Giano, who wished Corso to be 
punished, did not insist upon their laying down their arms, 
as many were of opinion he ought to have done, but advised 
them to go to the Signory, complain of the fact, and beg that 
they would take it into consideration. The people, full of 
wrath, thinking themselves insulted by the Capitano and 
abandoned by Giano della Bella, instead of going to the 
Signory went to the palace of the Capitano, of which they 
made themselves masters, and plundered it. 

This outrage displeased the whole city, and those who 
wished the ruin of Giano laid the entire blame upon him ; 
and as in the succeeding Signory there was an enemy of his, 
he was accused to the Capitano as the originator of the riot. 
Whilst the case was being tried, the people took arms and, 
proceeding to his house, offered to defend him against the 
Signory and his enemies. Giano, however, did not wish to 
put this burst of popular favour to the proof, or trust his life 
to the magistrates, for he feared the malignity of the latter 
and the instability of the former ; so, in order to remove an 
occasion for his enemies to injure him or his friends to offend 
the laws, he determined to withdraw, deliver his countrymen 
from the fear they had of him, and, leaving the city which at 
his own charge and peril he had delivered from the servitude 
of the great, become a voluntary exile. 

After the departure of Giano della Bella the nobility began 
to entertain hopes of recovering their authority, and judging 
their misfortune to have arisen from their divisions, they 
sent two of their body to the Signory, which they thought 
was favourable to them, to beg they would be pleased to 

B. il ch. 3. a.d. 12S2. TUMULTS QUELLED. 63 

moderate the severity of the laws made against them. As 
soon as their demand became known, the minds of the 
people were much excited ; for they were afraid the Signors 
would submit to them ; and so, between the desire of the 
nobility and the jealousy of the people, arms were resorted 
to. The nobility were drawn together in three places, near 
the church of St. John, in the New Market, and in the 
Piazza of the Mozzi, under three leaders, Forese Adimari, 
Vanni de Mozzi, and Geri Spini. The people assembled 
in immense numbers, under their ensigns, before the palace 
of the Signory, which at that time was situated near St. 
Procolo ; and, as they suspected the integrity of the Signory, 
they added six citizens to their number to take part in the 
management of affairs. 

Whilst both parties were preparing for the fight, some 
individuals, as well of the people as of the nobility, ac- 
companied with a few priests of respectable character, 
mingled amongst them for the purpose of effecting a pacifica- 
tion, reminding the nobility that their loss of power, and the 
laws which were made against them, had been occasioned by 
their haughty conduct, and the mischievous tendency of 
their proceedings ; that resorting to arms to recover by 
force what they had lost by illiberal measures and dis- 
union, would tend to the destruction of their country and 
increase the difficulties of their own position ; that they should 
bear in mind, that the people, both in riches, numbers, and 
hatred, were far stronger than they ; and that their nobility, 
on account of which they assumed to be above others, did 
not contribute to win battles, and would be found, when they 
came to arms, to be but an empty name, and insufficient to 
defend them against so many. On the other hand, they 
reminded the people that it is not prudent to wish always to 
have the last blow ; that it is an injudicious step to drive 
men to desperation, for he who is without hope is also with- 
out fear ; that they ought not to forget that in the wars the 
nobility had always done honour to the country, and there- 
fore it was neither wise nor just to pursue them with so 
much bitterness ; and that although the nobility could bear 
with patience the loss of the supreme magistracy, they 
could not endure that, by the existing laws, it should be 
in the power of every one to drive them from their country ; 

64 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. 3. a.d. 1292. 

and therefore it would be well to qualify these laws, and, 
in furtherance of so good a result, be better to lay down 
their arms than, trusting to numbers, try the fortune of 
a battle ; for it is often seen that the many are overcome by 
the few. Variety of opinion was found amongst the people ; 
many wished to decide the question by arms at once, for 
they were assured it would have to be done some time, and 
that it would be better to do so then than delay till the enemy 
had acquired greater strength; and that if they thought a 
mitigation of the laws would satisfy them, that then they 
would be glad to comply, but that the pride of the nobility 
was so great they would not submit unless they were com- 
pelled. To many others, who were more peaceable and 
better disposed, it appeared a less evil to qualify the laws a 
little than to come to battle ; and their opinion prevailing, it 
was provided that no accusation against the nobility could be 
received unless supported with sufficient testimony. 

Although arms were laid aside, both parties remained full 
of suspicion, and each fortified itself with men and places of 
strength. The people re-organized the government, and 
lessened the number of its officers, to which measure they 
were induced by finding that the Signors appointed from the 
families, of which the following were the heads, had been 
favourable to the nobility, viz., the Mancini, Magalotti, 
Altoviti, Peruzzi, and Cerretani. Having settled the govern- 
ment, for the greater magnificence and security of the Signory, 
they laid the foundation of their palace ; and to make space 
for the piazza, removed the houses that had belonged to the 
Uberti ; they also at the same period commenced the public 
prisons. These buildings were completed in a few years ; 
nor did our city ever enjoy a state of greater prosperity than 
in those times ; filled with men of great wealth and reputa- 
tion ; possessing within her walls 30.000 men capable of 
bearing arms, and in the country 70,000 ; whilst the whole 
of Tuscany, either as subjects or friends, owed obedience to 
Florence. And although there m ; ght be some indignation 
and jealousy between the nobility and the people, they did 
not produce any evil effect, but all lived together in unity 
and peace. And if this peace had not been disturbed by 
internal enmities there would have been no cause of appre- 
hension whatever, for the city had nothing to fear either 

!i i, . ri 4. a.d. 1292. THE CEECHI AND DONATI. 65 

from the empire or from those citizens, whom political reasons 
kept from their homes, and was in condition to meet all the 
states of Italy with her own forces. The evil, however, 
which external powers could not effect, was brought about 
by those within. 


The Cerchi and the Donati — Origin of the Bianca and Nera factions in 
Pistoia — They come to Florence — Open enmity of the Donati and the 
Cerchi — Their first conflict — The Cerchi head the Bianca faction — The 
Donati take part with the Nera — The pope's legate at Florence increases 
the confusion with an interdict — New affray betwixt the Cerchi and the 
Donati — The Donati and others of the Nera faction banished by the 
advice of Dante Alighieri — Charles of Valois sent by the pope to 
Florence — The Florentines suspect him — Corso Donati and the rest of 
the Nera party return to Florence — Veri Cerchi flies — The pope's 
legate again in Florence — The city again interdicted— New distur- 
bances — The Bianchi banished — Dante banished — Corso Donati ex- 
cites fresh troubles— The pope's legate endeavours to restore the 
emigrants but does not succeed — Great fire in Florence. 

The Cerchi and the Donati were, for riches, nobility, and 
the number and influence of their followers, perhaps the 
two most distinguished families in Florence. Being neigh- 
bours, both in the city and the country, there had arisen 
between them some slight displeasure, which however had 
not occasioned an open quarrel, and perhaps never would 
have produced any serious effect if the malignant humours 
had not been increased by new causes. Among the first 
families of Pistoia was the Cancellieri. It happened that 
Lore, son of Gulielmo, and Geri, son of Bertacca, both 
of this family, playing together, and coming to words. 
Geri was slightly wounded by Lore. This displeased 
Gulielmo ; and, designing by a suitable apology to remove 
all cause of further animosity, he ordered his son to 
go to the house of the father of the youth whom he had 
wounded, and ask pardon. Lore obeyed his father ; but this 
act of virtue failed to softer, the cruel mind of Bertacca, 

66 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. n. ch. 4. a.d. 1292. 

and having caused Lore to be seized, in order to add 
the greatest indignity to his brutal act, he ordered his ser- 
vants to chop off the youth's hand upon a block used for 
cutting meat upon, and then said to him, " Go to thy father, 
and tell him that sword- wounds are cured with iron and not 
with words." 

The unfeeling barbarity of this act so greatly exaspe- 
rated Gulielmo that he ordered his people to take arms 
for his revenge. Bertacca prepared for his defence, and 
not only that family, but the whole city of Pistoia, be- 
came divided. And as the Cancellieri were descended 
from a Cancelliere who had had two wives, of whom 
one was called Bianca (white), one party was named by 
those who were descended from her Bianca ; and the other, 
by way of greater distinction, was called Nera (black). 
Much and long-continued strife took place between the two, 
attended with the death of many men and the destruction of 
much property; and not being able to effect a union 
amongst themselves, but weary of the evil, and anxious either 
to bring it to an end or, by engaging others in their quarrel, 
increase it, they came to Florence, where the Neri, on 
account of their familiarity with the Donati, were favoured 
by Corso, the head of that family; and on this account 
the Bianchi, that they might have a powerful head to defend 
them against the Donati, had recourse to Veri de Cerchi, 
a man in no respect inferior to Corso. 

This quarrel, and the parties in it, brought from Pistoia, 
increased the old animosity between the Cerchi and the 
Donati, and it was already so manifest, that the Priors and 
all well-disposed men were in hourly apprehension of its 
breaking out, and causing a division of the whole city. They 
therefore applied to the pontiff, praying that he would inter- 
pose his authority between these turbulent parties, and provide 
the remedy which they found themselves unable to furnish. 
The pope sent for Veri, and charged him to make peace 
with the Donati, at which Veri exhibited great astonish- 
ment, saying, that he had no enmity against them, and that 
as pacification pre-supposes war, he did not know, there 
being no war between them, how peace-making could be 
necessary. Veri having returned from Rome without any 
thing being effected, the rage of the parties increased to 


such a degree, that any trivial accident seemed sufficient to 
make it burst forth, as indeed presently happened. 

It was in the month of May, during which, and upon 
holidays, it is the custom of Florence to hold festivals and 
public rejoicings throughout the city. Some youths of the 
Donati family, with their friends, upon horseback, were 
standing near the church of the Holy Trinity to look at a 
party of ladies who were dancing ; thither also came some 
of the Cerchi, like the Donati, accompanied with many of the 
nobility, and, not knowing that the Donati were before them, 
pushed their horses and jostled them ; thereupon the Donati, 
thinking themselves insulted, drew their swords, nor were 
the Cerchi at all backward to do the same, and not till after 
the interchange of many wounds, they separated. This 
disturbance was the beginning of great evils ; for the whole 
city became divided, the people as well as the nobility, and the 
parties took the names of the Bianchi and the Neri. The 
Cerchi were at the head of the Bianchi faction, to which 
adhered the Adimari, the Abati, a part of the Tosinghi, of 
the Bardi, of the Rossi, of the Frescobaldi, of the Nerli, and 
of the Manelli ; all the Mozzi, the Scali, Gherardini, Caval- 
canti, Malespini, Bostichi, Giandonati, Vecchietti, and Arri- 
gucci. To these were joined many families of the people, 
and all the Ghibellines then in Florence, so that their great 
numbers gave them almost the entire government of the city. 

The Donati, at the head of whom was Corso, joined 
the Nera party, to which also adhered those members of 
the above-named families who did not take part with the 
Bianchi ; and besides these, the whole of the Pazzi, the Bis- 
domini, Manieri, Bagnesi, Tornaquinci, Spini. Buondelmonti, 
Gianfigliazzi, and the Brunelleschi. Nor did the evil con- 
fine itself to the city alone, for the whole country was divided 
upon it, so that the Captains of the Six Parts, and whoever 
were attached to the Guelphic party or the well-being of the 
republic, were very much afraid that this new division would 
occasion the destruction of the city, and give new life to the 
Ghibelline faction. They therefore sent again to Pope 
Boniface, desiring that, unless he wished that city which had 
always been the shield of the church should either be ruined 
or become Ghibelline, he would consider of some means for 
her relief. The pontiff thereupon sent to Florence, as his legate, 

I 2 

68 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. n. ch. 4. a.d. 1296. 

Cardinal Matteo d'Acquasparta, a Portuguese, who, finding 
the Bianchi, as the most powerful, the least in fear, not quite 
submissive to him, he interdicted the city, and left it in 
anger; so that greater confusion now prevailed than had 
done previously to his coming. 

The minds of men being in great excitement, it happened 
that at a funeral which many of the Donati and the Cerchi 
attended, they first came to words and then to arms, from 
which however nothing but merely tumult resulted at the 
moment. However, having each retired to their houses, the 
Cerchi determined to attack the Donati, but, by the valour 
of Corso, they were repulsed and great numbers of them 
wounded. The city was in arms. The laws and the 
Signory were set at nought by the rage of the nobility, and 
the bent and wisest citizens were full of apprehension. The 
Donati and their followers, being the least powerful, were in 
the greatest fear, and to provide for their safety they called 
together Corso, the Captains of the Parts, and the other 
leaders of the Neri, and resolved to apply to the pope 
to appoint some personage of royal blood, that he might 
reform Florence ; thinking by this means to overcome the 
Bianchi. Their meeting and determination became known to 
the Priors, and the adverse party represented it as a con- 
spiracy against the liberties of the republic. Both parties 
being in arms, the Signory, one of whom at that time was 
the poet Dante, took courage, and from his advice and pru- 
dence, caused the people to rise for the preservation of order, 
and being joined by many from the country, they compelled 
the leaders of both parties to lay aside their arms, and 
banished Corso, with many of the Neri. And as an evi- 
dence of the impartiality of their motives, they also banished 
many of the Bianchi, who, however, soon afterwards, under 
pretence of some justifiable cause, returned. 

Corso and his friends, thinking the pope favourable to 
their party, went to Rome, and laid their grievances be- 
fore him, having previously forwarded a statement of them 
in writing. Charles of Valois, brother of the king of 
France, was then at the papal court, having been called 
into Italy by the king of Naples, to go over into Sicily. 
The pope, therefore, at the earnest prayers of the banished 
Florentines, consented to send Charles to Florence, till the 

U :i. (H.4.A.P. 1297. C0RS0*S RETURN. 69 

season suitable for his going to Sicily should arrive. He 
therefore came, and although the Bianchi, who then governed, 
were very apprehensive, still, as the head of the Guelphs, 
and appointed by the pope, they did not dare to oppose 
him ; and in order to secure his friendship, they gave him 
authority to dispose of the city as he thought proper. 

Thus authorized, Charles armed all his friends and follow- 
ers, which step gave the people so strong a suspicion that he 
designed to rob them of their liberty, that each took arms, 
and kept at his own house, in order to be ready, if Charles 
should make any such attempt. The Cerchi and the leaders 
of the Bianchi faction had acquired universal hatred by hav- 
ing, whilst at the head of the republic, conducted themselves 
with unbecoming pride ; and this induced Corso and the 
banished of the Neri party to return to Florence, knowing 
well that Charles and the Captains of the Parts were favour- 
able to them. And whilst the citizens, for fear of Charles, 
kept themselves in arms, Corso, with all the banished, 
and followed by many others, entered Florence without 
the least impediment. And although Veri de Cerchi was 
advised to oppose him, he refused to do so, saying that 
he wished the people of Florence, against whom he came, 
should punish him. However the contrary happened, for he 
was welcomed, not punished by them ; and it behoved Veri 
to save himself by flight. 

Corso, having forced the Pinti Gate, assembled his party 
at San Pietro Maggiore, near his own house, where, having 
drawn together a great number of friends and people de- 
sirous of change, he set at liberty all who had been im- 
prisoned for offeoces, whether against the state or against 
individuals. He compelled the existing Signory to withdraw 
privately to their own houses, elected a new one from the 
people of the Neri party, and for five days plundered the 
leaders of the Bianchi. The Cerchi, and the other heads of 
their faction, finding Charles opposed to them, and the greater 
part of the people their enemies, withdrew from the city, and 
retired to their strongholds. And although at first they 
would not listen to the advice of the pope, they were now 
compelled to turn to him for assistance, declaring that instead 
of uniting the city, Charles had caused greater disunion 
than before. The pope again sent Matteo d'Acquasparta, 

70 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. n. ch. 4. a.d. 1307. 

his legate, who made peace between the Cerchi and the 
Donati, and strengthened it with marriages and new be- 
trothals. But wishing that the Bianchi should participate in 
the employments of the government, to which the Neri who 
were then at the head of it would not consent, he withdrew, 
with no more satisfaction nor less enraged than on the former 
occasion, and left the city interdicted for disobedience. 

Both parties remained in Florence, and equally discontented; 
the Neri from seeing their enemies at hand, and apprehend- 
ing the loss of their power, and the Bianchi from find- 
ing themselves without either honour or authority ; and to 
these natural causes of animosity new injuries were added. 
Niccolo de' Cerchi, with many of his friends, went to his 
estates, and being arrived at the bridge of Affrico, was 
attacked by Simone, son of Corso Donati. The contest 
was obstinate, and on each side had a sorrowful conclu- 
sion ; for Niccolo was slain, and Simone was so severely 
wounded, that he died on the following night. 

This event again disturbed the entire city ; and although 
the Neri were most to blame, they were defended by those 
who were at the head of affairs ; and before sentence was 
delivered, a conspiracy of the Bianchi with Piero Ferrante, 
one of the barons who had accompanied Charles, was dis- 
covered, by whose assistance they sought to be replaced 
in the government. The matter became known from letters 
addressed to him by the Cerchi, although some were of 
opinion that they were not genuine, but written and pre- 
tended to be found, by the Donati, to abate the infamy which 
their party had acquired by the death of Niccolo. The 
whole of the Cerchi were however banished, with their fol- 
lowers of the Bianchi party, of whom was Dante the poet, 
their property confiscated, and their houses pulled down. 
They sought refuge, with a great number of Ghibellines who 
had joined them, in many places ; seeking fresh fortunes 
in new 7 undertakings. Charles, having effected the purpose 
of his coming, left the city, and returned to the pope to 
pursue his enterprise against Sicily, in which he was neither 
wiser or more fortunate than he had been at Florence ; so that 
with disgrace and the loss of many of his followers, he 
withdrew to France. 

After the departure of Charles, Florence remained quiet; 

B. ii. ch. 4. a.d. 1299. CHARLES LEAVES FLORENCE. 71 

Corso alone was restless, thinking he did not possess that sort 
of authority in the city which was due to his rank ; for the 
government being in the hands of the people, he saw the 
offices of the republic administered by many inferior to him- 
self. Moved by passions of this kind, he endeavoured, under 
pretence of an honourable design, to justify his own dis- 
honourable purposes, and accused many citizens who had the 
management of the public money, of applying it to their 
private uses, and recommended that they should be brought 
to justice and punished. This opinion was adopted by many 
who had the same views as himself; and many in igno- 
rance joined them, thinking Corso actuated only by pure 
patriotism. On the other hand, the accused citizens, enjoy- 
ing the popular favour, defended themselves, and this differ- 
ence arose to such a height, that, after civil means, they 
had recourse to arms. Of the one party were Corso and 
Lottieri, bishop of Florence, with many of the nobility and 
some of the people ; on the other side were the Signory. 
with the greater part of the people ; so that skirmishes took 
place in many parts of the city. The Signory, seeing their 
danger great, sent for aid to the Lucchese, and presently all 
the people of Lucca were in Florence. "With their assistance 
the disturbances were settled for the moment, and the people 
retained the government and their liberty, without attempt- 
ing by any other means to punish the movers of the disorder. 
The pope had heard of the tumults at Florence, and 
sent his legate, Niccolo da Prato, to settle them, who, 
being in high reputation both for his quality, learning, and 
mode of life, presently acquired so much of the people s 
confidence, that authority was given him to establish such a 
government as he should think proper. As he was of 
Ghibelline origin, he determined to recall the banished ; but 
designing first to gain the affections of the lower orders, he 
renewed the ancient companies of the people, which increased 
the popular power and reduced that of the nobility. The 
legate, thinking the multitude on his side, now endeavoured 
to recall the banished, and after attempting in many ways, 
none of which succeeded, he fell so completely under the 
suspicion of the government, that he was compelled to quit 
the city, and returned to the pope in great wrath, leaving 
Florence full of confusion and suffering under an interdict. 

72 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. n. ch. 4. a.d. 1304, 

Neither was the city disturbed with one division alone, but 
by many ; first the enmity between the people and the nobility, 
then that of the Ghibellines and the Guelphs, and lastly, of 
the Bianchi and the Neri. All the citizens were therefore in 
arms, for many were dissatisfied with the departure of the 
legate, and wished for the return of the banished. The first 
who set this disturbance on foot were the Medici and the 
Guinigi, who, with the legate, had discovered themselves in 
favour of the rebels ; and thus skirmishes took place in many 
parts of the city. 

In addition to these evils a fire occurred, which first broke 
out at the garden of St. Michael, in the houses of the 
Abati ; it thence extended to those of the Capoinsacchi, and 
consumed them, with those of the Macci, Amieri, Toschi, 
Cipriani, Lamberti, Cavalcanti, and the whole of the New 
Market ; from thence it spread to the gate of St. Maria, and 
burned it to the ground ; turning from the old bridge, it de- 
stroyed the houses of the Gherardini, Pulci, Amidei, and 
Lucardesi, and with these so many others, that the number 
amounted to seventeen hundred. It was the opinion of many 
that this fire occurred by accident during the heat of the dis- 
turbances. Others affirm that it was begun wilfully by Neri 
Abati, prior of St. Pietro Scarragio, a dissolute character, 
fond of mischief, who, seeing the people occupied with the 
combat, took the opportunity of committing a wicked act, 
lor which the citizens, being thus employed, could offer no 
remedy. And to ensure his success, he set fire to the house 
of his own brotherhood, where he had the best opportunity 
of doing it. This was in the year 1304, Florence be- 
ing afflicted both with fire and the sword. Corso Donati 
alone remained unarmed in so many tumults ; for he thought 
he would more easily become the arbitrator between the 
contending parties when, weary of strife, they should be 
inclined to accommodation. They laid down their arms, 
however, rather from satiety of evil than from any desire of 
union; and the only consequence was, that the banished were 
not recalled, and the party which favoured them remained 

n en 5. a.d 1305. RETURN OF EXILES. 73 


The emigrants attempt to re-enter Florence, but are not allowed to do so 
— The companies of the people restored — Restless conduct of Corso 
Donati — The ruin of Corso Donati — Corso Donati accused and con- 
demned — Riot at the house of Corso — Death of Corso — His character 
— Fruitless attempt of the emperor Henry against the Florentines — 
The emigrants are restored to the city — The citizens place themselves 
under the king of Naples for five years — War with Uguccione della 
Faggiuola — The Florentines routed — Florence withdraws herself from 
subjection to King Robert, and expels the Count Novello — Lando d'Agob- 
bio — His tyranny — His departure. 

The legate being returned to Rome, and hearing of the 
new disturbance which had occurred, persuaded the pope 
that if he wished to unite the Florentines, it would be neces- 
sary to have twelve of the first citizens appear before him, 
and having thus removed the principal causes of disunion, 
he might easily put a stop to it. The pontiff took this ad- 
vice, and the citizens, amongst whom was Corso Donati, 
obeyed the summons. These having left the city, the 
legate told the exiles that now, when the city was de- 
prived of her leaders, was the time for them to return. They 
therefore, having assembled, came to Florence, and entering 
by a part of the wall not yet completed, proceeded to the 
piazza of St. Giovanni. It is worthy of remark, that those 
who a short time previously, when they came unarmed and 
begged to be restored to their country, had fought for their 
return, now, when they saw them in arms and resolved to 
enter by force, took arms to oppose them (so much more was 
the common good esteemed than private friendship), and 
being joined by the rest of the citizens, compelled them to 
return to the places from whence they had come. They 
failed in their undertaking by having left part of their force 
at Lastra, and by not having waited the arrival of Tolo- 
setto Uberti, who had to come from Pistoia with three 
hundred horse ; for they thought celerity rather than num- 
bers would give them the victory; and it often happens, 
in similar enterprises, that delay robs us of the occasion, and 
too great anxiety to be forward prevents us of the power, or 
makes us act before we are properly prepared. 

74 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. b. ii. ch.5. a.d.1306. 

The banished having retired, Florence again returned to 
her old divisions ; and in order to deprive the Cavalcanti of 
their authority, the people took from them the Stinche, 
a castle situate in the Val di Greve, and anciently belonging 
to the family. And as those who were taken in it were the 
first who were put into the new prisons, the latter were, and 
still continue, named after it, the Stinche. The leaders of 
the republic also re-established the companies of the people, 
and gave them the ensigns that were first used by the compa- 
nies of the Arts ; the heads of which were called Gonfaloniers 
of the companies and colleagues of the Signory ; and ordered, 
that when any disturbance arose they should assist the 
Signory with arms, and in peace with counsel. To the two 
ancient rectors they added an executor, or sheriff, who, with 
the Gonfaloniers, was to aid in repressing the insolence of 
the nobility. 

In the meantime the pope died. Corso, with the other 
citizens, returned from Rome ; and all would have been well 
if his restless mind had not occasioned new troubles. 
It was his common practice to be of a contrary opinion 
to the most powerful men in the city ; and whatever he 
saw the people inclined to do, he exercised his utmost 
influence to effect, in order to attach them to himself ; so 
that he was a leader in all differences, at the head of every 
new scheme, and whoever wished to obtain anything extra- 
ordinary had recourse to him. This conduct caused him to 
be hated by many of the highest distinction; and their 
hatred increased to such a degree that the Neri faction to 
which he belonged, became completely divided ; for Corso, 
to attain his ends, had availed himself of private force 
and authority, and of the enemies of the state. But so 
great was the influence attached to his person, that every one 
feared him. Nevertheless, in order to strip him of the 
popular favour (which by this means may easily be done), a 
report was set on foot that he intended to make himself 
prince of the city ; and to the design his conduct gave great 
appearance of probability, for his way of living quite ex- 
ceeded all civil bounds ; and the opinion gained further 
strength, upon his taking to wife a daughter of Uguccione 
della Faggiuola, head of the Ghibelline and Bianchi faction, 
and one of the most powerful men in Tuscany. 

b. m. ch. 5. a.d. 1308. CORSOS DEFEAT 75 

When this marriage became known it gave courage to his 
adversaries, and they took arms against him ; for the same 
reason the people ceased to defend him, and the greater part 
of them joined the ranks of his enemies, the leaders of whom 
were Rosso della Tosa, Pazino dei Pazzi, Geri Spini, and Berto 
Brunelleschi. These with their followers, and the greater part 
of the people, assembled before the palace of the Signory, by 
whose command a charge was made before Piero Branca, 
captain of the people, against Corso, of intending, with the 
aid of Uguccione, to usurp the government. He was then 
summoned, and for disobedience, declared a rebel ; nor did 
two hours pass over between the accusation and the sentence. 
The judgment being given, the Signory, with the companies 
of the people under their ensigns, went in search of him, 
who, although seeing himself abandoned by many of his 
followers, aware of the sentence against him, the power of 
the Signory, and the multitude of his enemies, remained un- 
daunted, and fortified his houses, in the hope of defending 
them till Uguccione, for whom he had sent, should come to 
his relief. His residences, and the streets approaching them, 
were barricaded and taken possession of by his partisans, 
who defended them so bravely that the enemy, although in 
great numbers, could not force them, and the battle became one 
of the hottest, with wounds and death on all sides. But 
the people, finding they could not drive them from their 
ground, took possession of the adjoining houses, and by unob- 
served passages obtained entry. Corso, thus finding himself 
surrounded by his foes, no longer retaining any hope of 
assistance from Uguccione, and without a chance of victory, 
thought only of effecting his personal safety, and with 
Gherardo Bordoni, and some of his bravest and most trusted 
friends, fought a passage through the thickest of their 
enemies, and effected their escape from the city by the Gate 
of the Cross. They were, however, pursued by vast numbers, 
and Gherardo was slain upon the bridge of Affrico by 
Boccaccio Cavicciulli. Corso was overtaken and made 
prisoner by a party of Catalan horse, in the service of the 
Signory, at Rovezzano. But when approaching Florence, 
that he might avoid being seen and torn to pieces by his 
victorious enemies, he allowed himself to fall from horse- 
back, and, being down, one of those who conducted him cut 

75 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. b. ii. ch. 5. a.d. 1312. 

his throat. The body was found by the monks of San Salvi, 
and buried without any ceremony suitable to his rank. Such 
was the end of Corso, to whom his country and the 
Neri faction were indebted for much both of good and evil ; 
and if he had possessed a cooler spirit he would have left 
behind him a more happy memory. Nevertheless, he deserves 
to be enumerated amongst the most distinguished men our 
city has produced. True it is, that his restless conduct made 
both his country and his party forgetful of their obligation to 
him. The same cause also produced his miserable end, and 
brought many troubles upon both his friends and his country. 
Uguccione, coming to the assistance of his relative, learned at 
Remoli, that Corso had been overcome by the people, and 
finding that he could not render him any assistance, in order 
to avoid bringing evil upon himself without occasion, he re- 
turned home. 

After the death of Corso, which occurred in the year 
1308; the disturbances were appeased, and the people 
lived quietly till it was reported that the Emperor Henry 
was coming into Italy, and with him all the Florentine emi- 
grants ; to whom he had promised restoration to their country. 
The leaders of the government thought, that in order to lessen 
the number of their enemies, it would be well to recall, of 
their own will, all who had been expelled, excepting such as 
the law had expressly forbidden to return. Of the number 
not admitted, were the greater part of the Ghibellines, and 
some of those of the Bianchi faction, amongst whom were 
Dante Alighieri, the sons of Veri de' Cerchi and of Giano 
della Bella. Besides this they sent for aid to Robert, 
king of Naples, and not being able to obtain it of him as 
friends, they gave their city to him for five years, that he 
might defend them as his own people. The emperor entered 
Italy by the way of Pisa, and proceeded by the marshes to 
Rome, where he was crowned in the year 1312. Then, 
having determined to subdue the Florentines, he approached 
their city by the way of Perugia and Arezzo, and halted with 
his army at the monastery of San Salvi, about a mile from 
Florence, where he remained fifty days without effecting any- 
thing. Despairing of success against Florence, he returned 
to Pisa, where he entered into an agreement with Frederick, 
king of Sicily, to undertake the conquest of Naples, and 

B. n. ch. 5. a. d. 1313. THE FLORENTINES KOUTED. 77 

proceeded with his people accordingly ; but whilst filled with 
the hope of victory, and carrying dismay into the heart of 
King Robert, having reached Buonconvento, he died. 

Shortly after this, Uguccione della Faggiuola, having by 
means of the Ghibelline party become lord of Pisa and of 
Lucca, caused, with the assistance of these cities, very serious 
annoyance to the neighbouring places. In order to effect 
their relief the Florentines requested King Robert would 
allow his brother Piero to take the command of their armies. 
On the other hand, Uguccione continued to increase his power ; 
and either by force or fraud obtained possession of many 
castles in the Val d' Arno and the Val di Nievole ; and having 
besieged Monte Catini, the Florentines found it would be 
necessary to send to its relief, that they might not see him 
burn and destroy their whole territory. Having drawn to- 
gether a large army, they entered the Val di Nievole where 
they came up with Uguccione, and were routed after a severe 
battle in which Piero the king's brother and 2,000 men were 
slain ; but the body of the prince was never found. Neither 
was the victory a joyful one to Uguccione ; for one of his 
sons, and many of the leaders of his army, fell in the strife. 

The Florentines, after this defeat, fortified their territory, 
and King Robert sent them, for commander of their forces, 
the Count d'Andria, usually called Count Novello, by whose 
deportment, or because it is natural to the Florentines to find 
every state tedious, the city, notwithstanding the war with 
Uguccione, became divided into friends and enemies of 
the king. Simon della Tosa, the Magalotti, and certain 
others of the people who had attained greater influence in 
the government than the rest, were leaders of the party 
against the king. By these means messengers were sent to 
to France, and afterwards into Germany, to solicit leaders and 
forces that they might drive out the count, whom the king 
had appointed governor ; but they failed of obtaining any. 
Nevertheless they did not abandon their undertaking, but 
still desirous of one whom they might worship, after an un- 
availing search in France and Germany, they discovered him 
at Agobbio, and having expelled the Count Novello, caused 
Lando d' Agobbio to be brought into the city as Bargello 
(sheriff), and gave him the most unlimited power over the 
citizens. This man was cruel and rapacious ; and going through 

78 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. n. ch. 5. a.d 1313. 

the country accompanied with an armed force, he put many to 
death at the mere instigation of those who had endowed him 
with authority. His insolence arose to such a height, that 
he stamped base metal with the impression used upon the 
money of the state, and no one had sufficient courage to 
oppose him, so powerful had he become by the discords of 
Florence. Great, certainly, but unhappy city ! which neither 
the memory of past divisions, the fear of her enemies, nor a 
king's authority, could unite for her own advantage ; so that 
she found herself in a state of the utmost wretchedness, 
harassed without by Uguccione, and plundered within by 
Lando d'Agobbio. 

The friends of the king and those who opposed Lando and 
his followers, were either of noble families or the highest of 
the people, and all Guelphs ; but their adversaries being in 
power they could not discover their minds without incurring 
the greatest danger. Being however determined to deliver 
themselves from such disgraceful tyranny, they secretly 
wrote to King Robert, requesting him to appoint for his vicar 
in Florence Count Guido da Battifolle. The king complied ; 
and the opposite party, although the Signory were opposed 
to the king, on account of the good quality of the count, did 
not dare to resist him. Still his authority was not great, be- 
cause the Signory and Gonfaloniers of the companies were in 
favour of Lando and his party. 

During these troubles, the daughter of King Albert of 
Bohemia passed through Florence, in search of her husband, 
Charles the son of King Robert, and was received with the 
greatest respect by the friends of the king, who complained 
to her of the unhappy state of the city, and of the tyranny of 
Lando and his partisans ; so that through her influence and the 
exertion of the king's friends, the citizens were again united, 
and before her departure, Lando was stripped of all authority 
and sent back to Agobbio, laden with blood and plunder. 
In reforming the government, the sovereignty of the city was 
continued to the king for another three years ; and as there 
were then in office sevea Signors of the party of Lando, six 
more were appointed of the king's friends, and some magi- 
stracies were composed of thirteen Signors ; but not long 
afterwards, the number was reduced to seven, according to 
ancient custom. 

B. 11. en. 6. a.d. 1314. WAR WITH CASTRUCCIO. 79 


War with Castruccio — Castruccio marches against Prato and retires with- 
out making any attempt — The emigrants not being allowed to return, 
endeavour to enter the city by force, and are repulsed — Change in the 
mode of electing the great officers of state — The Squittini established — 
The Florentines under Raymond of Cardona are routed by Castruccio 
at Altopascio — Treacherous designs of Raymond — The Florentines give 
the sovereignty of the city to Charles, duke of Calabria, who appoints 
the duke of Athens for his vicar — The duke of Calabria comes to Flo- 
rence — The Emperor Louis of Bavaria visits Italy — The excitement he 
produces — Death of Castruccio and of Charles duke of Calabria- 
Reform of government. 

About the same time, Uguccione lost the sovereignty of 
Lucca and of Pisa, and Castruccio Castracani, a citizen of 
Lucca, became lord of them, who, being a young man, bold 
and fierce, and fortunate in his enterprises, in a short time 
became the head of the Ghibellines in Tuscany. On this 
account the discords amongst the Florentines were laid aside 
for some years, at first to abate the increasing power of Cas- 
truccio, and afterwards to unite their means for mutual de- 
fence against him. And in order to give increased strength 
and efficacy to their counsels, the Signory appointed twelve 
citizens whom they called Buonomini, or good men, without 
whose advice and consent, nothing of any importance could 
be carried into effect. The conclusion of the sovereignty of 
King Robert being come, the citizens took the government 
in their own hands, re-appointed the usual rectors and magi- 
stracies, and were kept united by the dread of Castruccio 
who, after many efforts against the lords of Lunigiano, 
attacked Prato, to the relief of which the Florentines having 
resolved to go, shut up their shops and houses, and proceeded 
thither in a body, amounting to twenty thousand foot and one 
thousand five hundred horse. And in order to reduce the 
number of Castruccio' s friends and augment their own, the 
Signory declared that every rebel of the Guelphic party who 
should come to the relief of Prato would be restored to his coun- 
try : they thus increased their army with an addition of four 
thousand men. This great force being quickly brought to Prato, 
alarmed Castruccio so much, that without trying the fortune 
of battle, he retired towards Lucca. Upon this, disturbances 

80 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. 11. ch. 6. A .u. 1314 

arose in the Florentine camp between the nobility and the 
people, the latter of whom wished to pursue the foe and de- 
stroy him ; the former were for returning home, saying they 
had done enough for Prato in hazarding the safety of Florence 
on its account, which they did not regret under the necessity 
of the circumstances, but now, that necessity no longer ex- 
isting, the propriety of further risk ceased also ; a3 there was 
little to be gained and much to lose. Not being able to 
agree, the question was referred to the Signory, amongst 
whom the difference of opinion was equally great ; and as 
the matter spread throughout the city, the people drew to- 
gether, and used such threatening language against the nobility 
that they, being apprehensive for their safety, yielded; but the 
resolution being adopted too late, and by many unwillingly, 
gave the enemy time to withdraw in safety to Lucca. 

This unfortunate circumstance made the people so indignant 
against the great that the Signory refused to perform the pro- 
mise made to the exiles, and the latter, anticipating the fact, 
determined to be beforehand, and were at the gates of Florence 
to gain admittance into the city, before the rest of the forces ; 
but their design did not take effect, for their purpose being 
foreseen, they were repulsed by those who had remained at 
home. They then endeavoured to acquire by entreaty what 
they had failed to obtain by force ; and sent eight men as 
ambassadors to the Signory, to remind them of the promise 
given, and of the dangers they had undergone, in hope 
of the reward which had been held out to them. And al- 
though the nobility, who felt the obligation on account of 
their having particularly undertaken to fulfil the promise for 
which the Signory had bound themselves, used their utmost 
exertion in favour of the exiles, so great was the anger of the 
multitude on account of their only partial success against 
Castruccio, that they could not obtain their admission. This 
occasioned cost and dishonour to the city ; for many of the 
nobility, taking offence at this proceeding, endeavoured to 
obtain by arms that which had been refused to their prayers, 
and agreed with the exiles that they should come armed to 
the city, and that those within would arm themselves in their 
defence. But the affair was discovered before the appointed 
day arrived, so that those without found the city in arms, and 
prepared to resist them. So completely subdued were those 

B. ii. ch. 6 a.d. 1352. SQUITTINI ESTABLISHED. 81 

within, that none dared to take arms : and thus the under- 
taking was abandoned, without any advantage having been 
obtained by the party. After the departure of the exiles it 
was determined to punish those who had been instrumental in 
bringing them to the city ; but, although every one knew who 
were the delinquents, none ventured to name and still less 
to accuse them. It was therefore resolved that in order to 
come at the truth, every one should write the names of those 
he believed to be guilty, and present the writing secretly 
to the Capitano. By this means, Amerigo Donati, Teghiajo, 
Frescobaldi, and Lotteringo Gherardini were accused ; but, 
the judges being more favourably disposed to them than 
perhaps their misdeeds deserved, each escaped by paying a 

The tumults which arose in Florence from the coming of 
the rebels to the gates, showed that one leader was insufficient 
for the companies of the people ; they therefore determined 
that in future each should have three or four ; and to every 
Gonfalonier two or three Pennonieri (pennon bearers) were 
added, so that if the whole body were not drawn out, a part 
might operate under one of them. And as happens, in re- 
publics, after any disturbance, some old laws are annulled 
and others renewed, so on this occasion, as it had been pre- 
viously customary to appoint the Signory for a time only, 
the then existing Signors and the colleagues, feeling themselves 
possessed of sufficient power, assumed the authority to fix 
upon the Signors that would have to sit during the next 
forty months, by putting their names into a bag or purse, and 
drawing them every two months. But, before the expiration of 
the forty months, many citizens were jealous that their names 
had not been deposited amongst the rest, and a new emborsa- 
tion was made. From this beginning arose the custom of 
emborsing or enclosing the names of all who should take office 
in any of the magistracies for a long time to come, as well 
those whose offices employed them within the city as those 
abroad, although previously, the councils of the retiring 
magistrates had elected those who were to succeed them 
These emborsations were afterwards called Squittini, 01 
pollings — and it was thought they would prevent much trou 
ble to the city, and remove the cause of those tumults which, 


82 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. n. en 6. a.d. 1326 

every three or at most five years, took place upon the creation 
of magistrates, from the number of candidates for office. 
And not being able to adopt a better expedient, they made use 
of this, but did not observe the defects which lay concealed 
under such a trivial accommodation. 

In 1325, Castruccio, having taken possession of Pistoia, be- 
came so powerful that the Florentines, fearing his greatness, 
resolved, before he should get himself firmly seated in his 
new conquest, to attack him and withdraw it from his au- 
thority. Of their citizens and friends they mustered an army 
amounting 20,000 foot, and 3000 horse, and with this body 
encamped before Altopascio, with the intention of taking the 
place, and thus preventing it from relieving Pistoia. Being 
successful in the first part of their design, they marched to- 
wards Lucca, and laid the country waste in their pro- 
gress ; but from the little prudence and less integrity of their 
leader, Ramondo di Cardona, they made but small progress ; 
for he, having observed them upon former occasions very 
prodigal of their liberty, placing it sometimes in the hands of 
a king, at others in those of a legate, or persons of even 
inferior quality, thought, if he could bring them into some 
difficulty, it might easily happen that they would make him 
their prince. Nor did he fail frequently to mention these 
matters, and required to have that authority in the city 
which had been given him over the army, endeavouring to 
show, that otherwise he could not enforce the obedience requi- 
site to a leader. As the Florentines did not consent to this, 
he wasted time, and allowed Castruccio to obtain the assistance 
which the Visconti and other tyrants of Lombardy had 
promised him, and thus become very strong. Ramondo, 
having wilfully let the opportunity of victory pass away, 
now found himself unable to escape ; for Castruccio coming 
up with him at Altopascio, a great battle ensued in which 
many citizens were slain and taken prisoners, and amongst 
the former fell Ramondo, who received from fortune that 
reward of bad faith and mischievous counsels, which he had 
richly deserved from the Florentines. The injury they suf- 
fered from Castruccio, after the battle, in plunder, prisoners, 
destruction, and burning of property, is quite indescribable ; 
for, without any opposition, during many months, he led his 

B. n ch. 6. v.D. 1326. CHARLES, DUKE OF CALABEIA. 88 

predatory forces wherever he thought proper, and it seemed 
sufficient to the Florentines if, after such a terrible event, they 
could save their city. 

Still they were not so absolutely cast down as to prevent 
them from raising great sums of money, hiring troops, and 
sending to their friends for assistance ; but all they could do 
was insufficient to restrain such a powerful enemy; so that 
they were obliged to offer the sovereignty to Charles, duke of 
Calabria, son of King Robert, if they could induce him to come 
to their defence ; for these princes, being accustomed to rule 
Florence, preferred her obedience to her friendship. But 
Charles, being engaged in the wars of Sicily, and therefore 
unable to undertake the sovereignty of the city* sent in his 
stead Walter, by birth a Frenchman, and duke of Athens. 
He, as viceroy, took possession of the city, and appointed the 
magistracies according to his own pleasure ; but his mode of 
proceeding was quite correct, and so completely contrary to 
his real nature, that every one respected him. 

The affairs of Sicily being composed, Charles came to 
Florence with a thousand horse. He made his entry into the 
city in July, 1326, and his coming, prevented further pil- 
lage of the Florentine territory by Castruccio. However, the 
influence which they acquired without the city was lost within 
her walls, and the evils which they did not suffer from their 
enemies, were brought upon them by their friends ; for the 
Signory could not do anything without the consent of the 
duke of Calabria, who, in the course of one year, drew from 
the people 400,000 florins, although by the agreement entered 
into with him, the sum was not to exceed 200,000 ; so great 
were the burdens with which either himself or his father con- 
stantly oppressed them. 

To these troubles were added new jealousies and new ene- 
mies ; for the Ghibellines of Lombardy became so alarmed 
upon the arrival of Charles in Tuscany, that Galeazzo Visconti 
and the other Lombard tyrants, by money and promises, in- 
duced Louis of Bavaria, who had lately been elected emperor 
contrary to the wish of the pope, to come into Italy. After 
passing through Lombardy he entered Tuscany, and with the 
assistance of Castruccio, made himself master of Pisa, from 
whence, having been pacified with sums of money, he directed 
his course towards Rome. This caused the duke of Calabria 


84 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. u. ch. 7. a d. 1326. 

to be apprehensive for the safety of Naples ; he therefore 
left Florence, and appointed as his viceroy, Filippo da Sag- 

After the departure of the emperor, Castruccio made him- 
self master of Pisa, but the Florentines, by a treaty with Pis- 
toia, withdrew her from obedience to him. Castruccio then 
besieged Pistoia, and persevered with so much vigour and 
resolution, that although the Florentines often attempted to 
relieve her, by attacking first his army and then his country, 
they were unable either by force or policy to remove him ; so 
anxious was he to punish the Pistolesi and subdue the Flo- 
rentines. At length the people of Pistoia were compelled to 
receive him for their sovereign ; but this event, although 
greatly to his glory, proved but little to his advantage, for, 
upon his return to Lucca, he died. And as one event either of 
good or evil seldom comes alone, at Naples also died Charles, 
duke of Calabria and lord of Florence, so that in a short time, 
beyond the expectation of their most sanguine hopes, the 
Florentines found themselves delivered from the domination 
of the one and the fear of the other. Being again free, they 
set about the reformation of the city, annulled all the old 
councils, and created two new ones, the one composed of 300 
citizens from the class of the people, the other of 250 from 
the nobility and the people. 

The first was called the Council of the People, the other 
the Council of the Commune. 


The Emperor at Rome — The Florentines refuse to purchase Lucca, and 
repent of it — Enterprises of the Florentines — Conspiracy of the Bardi 
and the Frescobaldi — The conspiracy discovered and checked — Maffeo 
da Marradi appeases the tumult — Lucca is purchased by the Florentines 
and taken by the Pisans — The Duke of Athens at Florence — The nobi- 
lity determine to make him prince of the city. 

The emperor, being arrived at Rome, created an anti-pope, 
did many things in opposition to the church, and attempted 
many others, but without effect, so that at last he retired with 

B. ii. ch. 7 a.d. 1333. THE ANTI-FOPE A PRISONER. 85 

disgrace, and went to Pisa, where, either because they were 
not paid, or from disaffection, about 800 German horse 
mutinied, and fortified themselves at Montechiaro upon the 
Ceruglio; and when the emperor had left Pisa to go into 
Lombardy, they took possession of Lucca and drove out Fran- 
cesco Castracani, whom he had left there. Designing to turn 
their conquest to account, they offered it to the Florentines for 
80,000 florins, which, by the advice of Simone della Tosa, was 
refused. This resolution, if they had remained in it, would 
have been of the greatest utility to the Florentines ; but as 
they shortly afterwards changed their minds, it became most 
pernicious ; for although at the time they might have obtained 
peaceful possession of her for a small sum and would not, 
they afterwards wished to have her and could not, even 
for a much larger amount ; which caused many and most 
hurtful charges to take place in Florence. Lucca, being 
refused by the Florentines, was purchased by Gherardino 
Spinoli, a Genoese, for 30,000 florins. And as men are often 
less anxious to take what is in their power than desirous of 
that which they cannot attain, as soon the purchase of 
Gherardino became known, and for how small a sum it had 
been bought, the people of Florence were seized with an ex- 
treme desire to have it, blaming themselves and those by 
whose advice they had been induced to reject the offer made 
to them. And in order to obtain by force what they had re- 
fused to purchase, they sent troops to plunder and overrun 
the country of the Lucchese. 

About this time the emperor left Italy. The anti-pope, by 
means of the Pisans, became a prisoner in France ; and the 
Florentines, from the death of Castruccio, which occurred in 
1328, remained in domestic peace till 1340, and gave their 
undivided attention to external affairs ; whilst many wars 
were carried on in Lombardy, occasioned by the coming of 
John, king of Bohemia, and in Tuscany, on account of Lucca. 
During this period, Florence was ornamented with many new 
buildings, and by the advice of Giotto, the most distinguished 
painter of his time, they built the tower of Santa Reparata. 
Besides this, the waters of the Arno having in 1333 risen 
twelve feet above their ordinary level, destroyed some of the 
bridges and many buildings, all which were restored with 
great care and expense. 

8G HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. n. ch. 7. a.d. 1319. 

In the year 1340, new sources of disagreement arose. The 
Great had two ways of increasing or preserving their power ; 
the one, so to restrain the emborsation of magistrates, that 
the lot always fell upon themselves or their friends; the 
other, that having the election of the rectors, they were 
always favourable to their party. This second mode they 
considered of so great importance, that the ordinary rectors 
not being sufficient for them, they on some occasions 
elected a third, and at this time they had made an extraordi- 
nary appointment, under the title of captain of the guard, of 
Jacopo Gabrielli, of Agobbio, and endowed him with un- 
limited authority over the citizens. This man, under the 
sanction of those who governed, committed constant outrages ; 
and among those whom he injured were Piero de' Bardi 
and Bardo Frescobaldi. These being of the nobility, and 
naturally proud, could not endure that a stranger, sup- 
ported by a few powerful men, should without cause injure 
them with impunity, and consequently entered into a con- 
spiracy against him and those by whom he was supported. 
They were joined by many noble families, and some of the 
people, who were offended with the tyranny of those in power. 
Their plan was, that each should bring into his house a 
number of armed men, and on the morning after the day of 
All Saints, when almost all would be in the temples praying 
for their dead, they should take arms, kill the Capitano and 
those who were at the head of affairs, and then, with a new 
Signory and new ordinances, reform the government. 

But, as the more a dangerous business is considered, the 
less willingly it is undertaken, it commonly happens, when 
there is any time allowed betwixt the determining upon a 
perilous enterprise and its execution, that the conspiracy 
by one means or other becomes known. Andrea de' Bardi 
was one of the conspirators, and upon re-consideration of 
the matter, the fear of the punishment operated more power- 
fully upon him than the desire of revenge, and he disclosed 
the affair to Jacopo Alberti, his brother-in-law. Jacopo 
acquainted the Priors, and they informed the govern- 
ment. And as the danger was near, All Saints' day being 
just at hand, many citizens met together in the palace; 
and thinking their peril increased by delay, they insisted 
that the Signory should order the alarm to be rung, and 


call the people together in arms. Taldo Valori was at this time 
Gonfalonier, and Francesco Salviati one of the Signory, who, 
being relatives of the Bardi, were unwilling to summon the 
people with the bell, alleging as a reason that it is by no 
means well to assemble them in arms upon every slight 
occasion, for power put into the hands of an unrestrained mul- 
titude was never beneficial ; that it is an easy matter to excite 
them to violence, but a difficult thing to restrain them ; and 
that therefore it would be taking a more prudent course if 
they were to inquire into the truth of the affair, and punish 
the delinquents by the civil authority, than to attempt, upon 
a simple information, to correct it by such a tumultuous 
means, and thus hazard the safety of the city. None would 
listen to these remarks ; the Signory were assailed with 
insolent behaviour and indecent expressions, and compelled 
to sound the alarm, upon which the people presently assem- 
bled in arms. On the other hand, the Bardi and the Fres- 
cobaldi, finding themselves discovered, that they might con- 
quer with glory or die without shame, armed themselves, in 
the hope that they would be able to defend that part of the 
city beyond the river, where their houses were situate ; 
and they fortified the bridge in expectation of assistance, 
which they expected from the nobles and their friends in 
the country. Their design was frustrated by the people 
who, in common with themselves, occupied this part of the 
city ; for these took arms in favour of the Signory, so that, 
6eeing themselves thus circumstanced, they abandoned the 
bridges, and betook themselves to the street in which the 
Bardi resided, as being a stronger situation than any other; 
and this they defended with great bravery. 

Jacopo d'Agobbio, knowing the whole conspiracy was 
directed against himself, in fear of death, terrified and van- 
quished, kept himself surrounded with his forces near the 
palace of the Signory ; but the other rectors, who were much 
less blameable, discovered greater courage, and especially 
the podesta or provost, whose name was Maffeo da Mar- 
radi. He presented himself amongst the combatants without 
any fear, and passing the bridge of the Rubaconte amidst the 
swords of the Bardi, made a sign that he wished to speak to 
them. Upon this, their reverence for the man, his noble 
demeanour, and the excellent qualities he was known to 

88 HISTORY OF ELOKEXCE. B. 11. ch. 7. A.D. 1340. 

possess, caused an immediate cessation of the combat, and 
induced them to listen to him patiently. He very gravely, 
but without the use of any bitter or aggravating expressions, 
blamed their conspiracy, showed the danger they would incur 
if they still contended against the popular feeling, gave them 
reason to hope their complaints would be heard and mercifully 
considered, and promised that he himself would use his endea- 
vours in their behalf. He then returned to the Signory, and 
implored them to spare the blood of the citizens, showing the 
impropriety of judging them unheard, and at length induced 
them to consent that the Bardi and the Frescobaldi, with 
their friends, should leave the city, and without impediment 
be allowed to retire to their castles. Upon their departure 
the people being again disarmed, the Signory proceeded 
against those only of the Bardi and Frescobaldi families who 
had taken arms. To lessen their power, they bought of 
the Bardi the castle of Mangona and that of Vernia; and 
enacted a law which provided, that no citizen should be 
allowed to possess a castle or fortified place, within twenty 
miles of Florence. 

After a few months, Stiatta Frescobaldi was beheaded, and 
many of his family banished. Those who governed, not 
satisfied with having subdued the Bardi and the Frescobaldi, 
as is most commonly the case, the more authority they posses- 
sed the worse use they made of it and the more insolent they 
became. As they had hitherto had one captain of the guard 
who afnicted the city, they now appointed another for the 
country, with unlimited authority, to the end that those whom 
they suspected might abide neither within nor without. 
And they excited them to such excesses against the whole of 
the nobility, that these were driven to desperation, and ready 
to sell both themselves and the city to obtain revenge. The 
occasion at length came, and they did not fail to use it. 

The troubles of Tuscany and Lombardy had brought the 
city of Lucca under the rule of Mastino della Scala, lord of 
Verona, who, though bound by contract to assign her to the 
Florentines, had refused to do so ; for, being lord of Parma, 
he thought he should be able to retain her, and did not trouble 
himself about his breach of faith. Upon this the Florentines 
joined the Venetians, and with their assistance brought 
Mastino to the brink of ruin. They did not, however, derive 

B. it. ch. 7. a.d.1 342. LOSS OF LUCCA. 89 

any benefit from this beyond the slight satisfaction of having 
conquered him ; for the Venetians, like all who enter into 
league with less powerful states than themselves, having 
acquired Trevigi and Vicenza, made peace with Mastino 
without the least regard for the Florentines. Shortly after 
this, the Visconti, lords of Milan, having taken Parma from 
Mastino, he found himself unable to retain Lucca, and there- 
fore determined to sell it. The competitors for the pur- 
chase were the Florentines and the Pisans ; and in the course 
of the treaty the Pisans, finding that the Florentines, being the 
richer people, were about to obtain it, had recourse to arms, 
and, with the assistance of the Visconti, marched against 
Lucca. The Florentines did not, on that account, withdraw 
from the purchase, but having agreed upon the terms with 
Mastino, paid part of the money, gave security for the 
remainder, and sent Naddo Rucellai, Giovanni di Bernardino 
de' Medici, and Rosso di Ricciardo de' Ricci, to take posses- 
sion, who entered Lucca by force, and Mastino' s people 
delivered the city to them. Nevertheless the Pisans con- 
tinued the siege, and the Florentines used their utmost 
endeavours to relieve her; but after a long war, loss of 
money, and accumulation of disgrace, they were compelled to 
retire, and the Pisans became lords of Lucca. 

The loss of this city, as in like cases commonly happens, 
exasperated the people of Florence against the members of 
the government ; at every street corner and public place they 
were openly censured, and the entire misfortune was laid to 
the charge of their greediness and mismanagement. At the 
beginning of the war, twenty citizens had been appointed to 
undertake the direction of it, who appointed Malatesta 
da Rimini to the command of the forces. He having ex- 
hibited little zeal and less prudence, they requested assist- 
ance from Robert, king of Naples, and he sent them 
Walter, duke of Athens, who, as Providence would have it, to 
bring about the approaching evils, arrived at Florence just at 
the moment when the undertaking against Lucca had entirely 
failed. Upon this the Twenty, seeing the anger of the people, 
thought to inspire them with fresh hopes by the appoint- 
ment of a new leader, and thus remove, or at least abate, 
the causes of calumny against themselves. As there was 
much to be feared, and that the duke of Athens might have 

90 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. n. ch. 7. a.d. 1342. 

greater authority to defend them, they first chose him for 
their coadjutor, and then appointed him to the command of 
the army. The nobility, who were discontented from the 
causes above mentioned, having many of them been acquainted 
with Walter, when upon a former occasion he had governed 
Florence for the duke of Calabria, thought they had now 
an opportunity, though with the ruin of the city, of sub- 
duing their enemies ; for there was no means of prevailing 
against those who had oppressed them, but of submitting 
to the authority of a prince who, being acquainted with 
the worth of one party and the insolence of the other, 
would restrain the latter and reward the former. To this 
they added a hope of the benefits they might derive from 
him when he had acquired the principality by their means. 
They therefore took several occasions of being with him 
secretly, and entreated he would take the command wholly 
upon himself, offering him the utmost assistance in their 
power. To their influence and entreaty were also added 
those of some families of the people ; these were the Peruzzi, 
Acciajuoli, Antellesi, and Buonaccorsi, who, being over- 
whelmed with debts, and without means of their own, wished 
for those of others to liquidate them, and, by the slavery of 
their country, to deliver themselves from their servitude to 
their creditors. These demonstrations excited the ambitious 
mind of the duke to greater desire of dominion, and in order 
to gain himself the reputation of strict equity and justice, 
and thus increase his favour with the plebeians, he prose- 
cuted those who had conducted the war against Lucca, con- 
demned many to pay fines, others to exile, and put to death 
Giovanni de' Medici, Naddo Rucellai, and Guglielmo Altoviti. 

a.d.1342. DUKE OF ATHENS. 91 


tke of Athens requires to be made prince of Florence — The Signory 
address the duke upon the subject — The plebeians proclaim him prince 
of Florence for life — Tyrannical proceedings of the duke — the city 
disgusted with him — Conspiracies against the duke — The duke discovers 
the conspiracies, and becomes terrified — The city rises against him — He 
is besieged in the palace — Measures adopted by the citizens for reform 
of the government — The duke is compelled to withdraw from the city — 
Miserable deaths of Guglielmo da Scesi and his son — Departure of the 
duke of Athens — His character. 

These executions greatly terrified the middle class of citizens, 
but gave satisfaction to the Great and to the plebeians ; — to 
the latter, because it is their nature to delight in evil ; and to 
the former, by thus seeing themselves avenged of the many 
wrongs they had suffered from the people. When the duke 
passed along the streets he was hailed with loud cheers, the 
boldness of his proceedings was praised, and both parties 
joined in open entreaties, that he would search out the 
faults of the citizens, and punish them. 

The office of the Twenty began to fall into disuse, whilst 
the power of the duke became great, and the influence of 
fear excessive ; so that every one, in order to appear 
friendly to him, caused his arms to be painted over their 
houses, and the name alone was all he needed to be abso- 
lutely prince. Thinking himself upon such a footing that 
he might safely attempt any thing, he gave the Signory to 
understand that he judged it necessary for the good of the 
city, that the sovereignty , should be freely given him, and 
that as the rest of the citizens were willing that it should be 
so, he desired they would also consent. The Signory, not- 
withstanding many had foreseen the ruin of their country, 
were much disturbed at this demand ; and although they 
were aware of the dangerous position in which they stood, 
that they might not be wanting in their duty, resolutely 
refused to comply. The duke had, in order to assume a 
greater appearance of religion and humanity, chosen for his 
residence the convent of the Minor Canons of St. Croce, 
and in order to carry his evil designs into effect, proclaimed 
that all the people should on the following morning present 

92 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. u. ch. 8. a.d. 1342. 

themselves before him in the piazza of the convent. This 
command alarmed the Signory much more than his discourse 
to them had done, and they consulted with those citizens 
whom they thought most attached to their country and to 
liberty ; but they could not devise any better plan, know- 
ing the power of which the duke was possessed, than to 
endeavour by entreaty to induce him either to forego his 
design or to make his government less intolerable. A party 
of them was therefore appointed to wait upon him, one of 
whom addressed him in the following manner : — 

" We appear before you, my lord, induced first by the 
demand which you have made, and then by the orders you 
have given for a meeting of the people ; for it appears to us 
very clearly, that it is your intention to effect by extraordinary 
means the design from which we have hitherto withheld our 
consent. It is not however, our intention to oppose you 
with force, but only to show what a heavy charge you 
take upon yourself, and the dangerous course you adopt ; to 
the end that you may remember our advice and that of those 
who, not by consideration of what is beneficial for you, but 
for the gratification of their own unreasonable wishes, have 
advised you differently. You are endeavouring to reduce to 
slavery a city that has always existed in freedom ; for the 
authority which we have at times conceded to the kings of 
Naples was companionship and not servitude. Have you 
considered the mighty things which the name of liberty 
implies to such a city as this, and how delightful it is to 
those who hear it ? It has a power which nothing can subdue, 
time cannot wear away, nor can any degree of merit in a 
prince countervail the loss of it. Consider, my lord, how 
great the force must be that can keep a city like this in 
subjection; no foreign aid would enable you to do it; 
neither can you confide in those at home ; for they who are 
at present your friends, and advise you to adopt the course 
you now pursue, as soon as with your assistance they have 
overcome their enemies, will at once turn their thoughts 
towards effecting your destruction, and then take the govern- 
ment upon themselves. The plebeians, in whom you confide, 
will change upon any accident, however trivial ; so that in a 
very short time you may expect to see the whole city opposed to 
you, which will produce both their ruin and your own. Nor 

m. 8. a.d. 1342. SPEECH OF THE SIGNORY. 93 

will you be able to find any remedy for this ; for princes 
who have but few enemies may make their government very 
secure by the death or banishment of those who are op- 
posed to them ; but when the hatred is universal, no security 
whatever can be found, for you cannot tell from what 
direction the evil may commence ; and he who has to appre- 
hend every man his enemy cannot make himself assured 
of any one. And if you should attempt to secure a friend or 
two. you would only increase the dangers of your situation ; 
for the hatred of the rest would be increased by your suc- 
cess, and they would become more resolutely disposed to 

u That time can neither destroy nor abate the desire for 
freedom is most certain ; for it has been often observed, that 
those have re-assumed their liberty who in their own persons 
had never tasted of its charms, and love it only from remem- 
brance of what they have heard their fathers relate ; and 
therefore when recovered, have preserved it with indomitable 
resolution and at every hazard. And even when their fathers 
could not remember it, the public buildings, the halls of the 
magistracy, and the insignia of free institutions, remind them 
of it ; and these things cannot fail to be known and greatly 
desired by every class of citizens. 

" What is it you imagine you can do, that would be an 
equivalent for the sweets of liberty, or make men lose the 
desire of their present condition ? No ; if you were to join 
the whole of Tuscany to the Florentine rule, if you were to 
return to the city daily in triumph over her enemies, what 
could it avail? The glory would not be ours, but yours. 
We should not acquire fellow citizens, but partakers of our 
bondage, who would serve to sink us still deeper in ignominy. 
And if your conduct were in every respect upright, your de- 
meanour amiable, and your judgments equitable, all these 
would be insufficient to make you beloved. If you imagine 
otherwise, you deceive yourself ; for, to one accustomed to the 
enjoyment of liberty, the slightest chains feel heavy, and 
every tie upon his free soul oppresses him. Besides, it is 
impossible to find a violent people associated with a good 
prince, for of necessity they must soon become alike, or their 
difference produce the ruin of one of them. You may there- 
fore be assured, that you will either have to hold this city 

94 HISTORY OF FLORENCE, B. 8. a.d. 1342. 

by force, to effect which, guards, castles, and external aid 
have oft been found insufficient, or be content with the 
authority we have conferred ; and this we would advise, 
reminding you that no dominion can be durable, to which 
the governed do not consent ; and we have no wish to lead 
you, blinded by ambition, to such a point that, unable either 
to stand or advance, you must, to the great injury of both, 
of necessity fall." 

This discourse did not in the slightest degree soften the 
obdurate mind of the duke, who replied, that it was not hi? 
intention to rob the city of her liberty, but to restore it 
to her ; for those cities alone are in slavery that are dis- 
united, whilst the united are free. As Florence, by her 
factions and ambition, had deprived herself of liberty, he 
should restore, not take it from her ; and as he had been 
induced to take this charge upon himself, not from his own 
ambition, but at the entreaty of a great number of citizens, 
they would do well to be satisfied with that which produced 
contentment amongst the rest. With regard to the danger 
he might incur, he thought nothing of it ; for it was not the 
part of a good man to avoid doing good from his apprehen- 
sion of evil, and it was the part of a coward to shun a 
glorious undertaking because some uncertainty attended the 
success of the attempt ; and he knew he should so conduct 
himself, that they would soon see they had entertained great 
apprehensions and been in little danger. 

The Signory then agreed, finding they could not do better, 
that on the following morning the people should be assembled 
in their accustomed place of meeting, and with their consent 
the Signory should confer upon the duke the sovereignty 
of the city for one year, on the same conditions as it had 
been entrusted to the duke of Calabria. It was upon the 8th 
of September, 1342, when the duke, accompanied by Giovanni 
della Tosa and all his confederates, with many other citizens, 
came to the piazza or court of the palace, and having with 
the Signory mounted upon the ringhiera, or rostrum, (as the 
Florentines call those steps which lead to the palace,) the 
agreement which had been entered into between the Signory 
and himself was read. When they had come to the pas- 
sage which gave the government to him for one year, the 
people shouted, "for life." Upon tins, Francesco Rus- 

R jr. ch. S.a.d. 1342. WALTER, DUKE OF ATHENS. 95 

tichelli, one of the Signory, arose to speak, and endeavoured 
to abate the tumult and procure a hearing ; but the mob, with 
their hootings, prevented him from being heard by any one ; 
so that with consent of the people the duke was elected, not 
for one year merely, but for life. He was then borne through 
the piazza by the crowd, shouting his name as they proceeded. 

It is the custom that he who is appointed to the guard of 
the palace shall, in the absence of the Signory, remain locked 
within. This office was at that time held by Rinieri di 
Giotto, who, bribed by the friends of the duke, without wait- 
ing for any force, admitted him immediately. The Signory, 
terrified and dishonoured, retired to their own houses ; the 
palace was plundered by the followers of the duke, the Gon- 
falon of the people torn to pieces, and the arms of the duke 
placed over the palace. All this happened to the indescriba- 
ble sorrow of good men, though to the satisfaction of those 
who, either from ignorance or malignity, were consenting 

The duke, having acquired the sovereignty of the city, in 
order to strip those of all authority who had been defenders 
of her liberty, forbade the Signory to assemble in the palace, 
and appointed a private dwelling for their use. He took 
their colours from the Gonfaloniers of the companies of the 
people ; abolished the ordinances made for the restraint of the 
Great ; set at liberty those who were imprisoned ; recalled the 
Bardi and the Frescobaldi from exile, and forbade every one 
from carrying arms about his person. In order the better to 
defend himself against those within the city, he made friends of 
all he could around it, and therefore conferred great benefits 
upon the Aretini and other subjects of the Florentines. 
He made peace with the Pisans, although raised to power in 
order that he might carry on war against them ; ceased paying 
interest to those merchants who, during the war against 
Lucca, had lent money to the republic ; increased the old 
taxes, levied new ones, and took from the Signory all autho- 
rity. His rectors were Baglione da Perugia and Gugliel- 
mo da Scesi, who, with Cerrettieri Bisdomini, were the per- 
sons with whom he consulted on public affairs. He imposed 
burdensome taxes upon the citizens ; his decisions between con- 
tending parties were unjust ; and that precision and humanity 
which he had at first assumed, became cruelty and pride ; so 

96 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. n. ch. 8. a.d. 1342. 

that many of the greatest citizens and noblest people were, 
either by fines, death, or some new invention, grievously 
oppressed. And in completing the same bad system, both with- 
out the city and within, he appointed six rectors for the country, 
who beat and plundered the inhabitants. He suspected the 
Great, although he had been benefited by them, and had 
restored many to their country ; for he felt assured that the 
generous minds of the nobility, would not allow them, from 
any motives, to submit contentedly to his authority. He also 
began to confer benefits and advantages upon the lowest 
orders, thinking that with their assistance, and the arms of 
foreigners, he would be able to preserve the tyranny. The 
month of May, during which feasts are held, being come, he 
caused many companies to be formed of the plebeians and 
very lowest of the people, and to these, dignified with splendid 
titles, he gave colours and money ; and whilst one party went 
in bacchanalian procession through the city, others were 
stationed in different parts of it, to receive them as guests. As 
the report of the duke's authority spread abroad, many of 
French origin came to him, for all of whom he found offices 
and emoluments, as if they had been the most trustworthy of 
men ; so that in a short time Florence became not only sub- 
ject to French dominion, but adopted their dresses and man- 
ners ; for men and women, without regard to propriety or sense 
of shame, imitated them. But that which disgusted the peo- 
ple most completely was the violence which, without any 
distinction of quality or rank, he and his followers committed 
upon the women. 

The people were filled with indignation, seeing the majesty 
of the state overturned, its ordinances annihilated, its laws 
annulled, and every decent regulation set at nought ; for men 
unaccustomed to royal pomp, could not endure to see this man, 
surrounded with his armed satellites on foot and on horse- 
back; and having now a closer view of their disgrace, they 
were compelled to honour him whom they in the highest 
degree hated. To this hatred, was addded the terror occa- 
sioned by the continual imposition of new taxes and frequent 
shedding of blood, with which he impoverished and consumed 
the city. 

The duke was not unaware of these impressions existing 
strongly in the people's minds, nor was he without fear of the 

B ii. ch. 8. a.d. 1342. THE DUKES CRUELTY. 97 

consequences ; but still pretended to think himself beloved ; 
and when Matteo di Morozzo, either to acquire his favour or to 
free himself from danger, gave information that the family of 
the Medici and some others had entered into a conspiracy 
against him, he not only did not inquire into the matter, but 
caused the informer to be put to a cruel death. This mode 
of proceeding restrained those who were disposed to acquaint 
him of his danger, and gave additional courage to such as 
sought his ruin. Bertone Cini, having ventured to speak 
against the taxes with which the people were loaded, had his 
tongue cut out with such barbarous cruelty as to cause his 
death. This shocking act increased the people's rage, and 
their hatred of the duke ; for those who were accustomed to 
discourse and to act upon every occasion with the greatest 
boldness, could not endure to live with their hands tied and 
forbidden to speak. 

This oppression increased to such a degree, that not merely 
the Florentines, who though unable to preserve their 
liberty cannot endure slavery, but the most servile people 
on earth would have been roused to attempt the recovery of 
freedom ; and consequently many citizens of all ranks re- 
solved either to deliver themselves from this odious tyranny 
or die in the attempt. Three distinct conspiracies were formed ; 
one of the Great ; another of the people, and the third of the 
working classes ; each of which, besides the general causes 
which operated upon the whole, were excited by some other 
particular grievance. The Great found themselves deprived 
of all participation in the government ; the people had lost 
the power they possessed, and the artificers saw themselves 
deficient in the usual remuneration of their labour. 

Agnolo Acciajuoli was at this time archbishop of Flo- 
rence, and by his discourses had formerly greatly favoured 
the duke, and procured him many followers amongst the 
higher class of the people. But when he found him lord of 
the city, and became acquainted with his tyrannical mode of 
proceeding, it appeared to him that he had misled his country- 
men ; and to correct the evil he had done, he saw no other 
course, but to attempt the cure by the means which had caused 
it. He therefore became the leader of the first and most 
powerful conspiracy, and was joined by the Bardi, Rossi, 
Frescobaldi, Scali Altoviti, Magalotti, Strozzi, and Mancini. 

03 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. n. ch. 8. a.d. 134! 

Of the second, the principals were Manno and Cors< 
Donati, and with them the Pazzi, Cavicciulli, Ccrchi, am 
Albizzi. Of the third, the first was Antonio Adimari, and wit] 
him the Medici, Bordini, Rucellai, and Aldobrandini. It wa 
the intention of these last, to slay him in the house of the Al 
bizzi, whither he was expected to go on St. John's clay, to se> 
the horses run, but he not having gone, their design did no 
succeed. They then resolved to attack him as he rode througl 
the city ; but they found this would be very difficult ; fo 
he was always accompanied with a considerable armed force 
and never took the same road twice together, so tha 
they had no certainty of where to find him. They had i 
design of slaying him in the council, although they knev 
that if he were dead, they would be at the mercy of hi: 

Whilst these matters were being considered by the con- 
spirators, Antonio Adimari, in expectation of getting assist- 
ance from them, disclosed the affair to some Siennese 
his friends, naming certain of the conspirators, and as- 
suring them that the whole city was ready to rise at once, 
One of them communicated the matter to Francesco Brunel- 
leschi, not with a design to injure the plot, but in the hope 
that he would join them. Francesco, either from persona] 
fear, or private hatred of some one, revealed the whole 
to the duke ; whereupon, Pagolo del Mazecha and Simon da 
Monterappoli were taken, who acquainted him with the 
number and quality of the conspirators. This terrified him, 
and he was advised to request their presence rather than to 
take them prisoners, for if they fled, he might without dis- 
grace, secure himself by banishment of the rest. He there- 
fore sent for Antonio Adimari, who, confiding in his com- 
panions, appeared immediately, and was detained. Fran- 
cesco Brunelleschi and Uguccione Buondelmonti advised 
the duke to take as many of the conspirators prisoners 
as he could, and put them to death ; but he, thinking 
his strength unequal to his foes, did not adopt this course, 
but took another, which, had it succeeded, would have 
freed him from his enemies and increased his power. It 
was the custom of the duke to call the citizens together upon 
some occasions and advise with them. He therefore having 
first sent to collect forces from without, made a list of three 

B. n. ch. 8. A.u. 1343. CONSPIRACY AGAINST THE DUKE. 99 

hundred citizens, and gave it to his messengers, with orders 
to assemble them under the pretence of public business ; and 
having drawn them together, it was his intention either to 
put them to death or imprison them. 

The capture of Antonio Adimari and the sending for forces, 
which could not be kept secret, alarmed the citizens, and 
more particularly those who were in the plot, so that the 
boldest of them refused to attend, and as each had read the 
list, they sought each other, and resolved to rise at once and 
die like men, with arms in their hands, rather than be led 
like calves to the slaughter. In a very short time the chief 
conspirators became known to each other, and resolved that 
the next day, which was the 26th July, 1343, they would 
raise a disturbance in the old market-place, then arm them- 
selves and call the people to freedom. 

The next morning being come, at nine o'clock, according 
to agreement, they took arms, and at the call of liberty 
assembled, each party in its own district, under the ensigns 
and with the arms of the people, which had been secretly 
provided by the conspirators. All the heads of families, as 
well of the nobility as of the people, met together, and swore 
to stand in each other's defence, and effect the death of the 
duke ; except some of the Buondelmonti and of the Caval- 
canti, with those four families of the people which had taken 
so conspicuous a part in making him sovereign, and the 
butchers, with others, the lowest of the plebeians, who met 
armed in the piazza in his favour. 

The duke immediately fortified the palace, and ordered 
those of his people who were lodged in different parts of the 
city to mount upon horseback and join those in the court ; 
but, in their way thither, many were attacked and slain. 
However, about three hundred horse assembled, and the 
duke was in doubt whether he should come forth and 
meet the enemy, or defend himself within. On the 
other hand, the Medici, Cavicciulli, Rucellai, and other fami- 
lies who had been most injured by him, fearful that if he 
came forth, many of those who had taken arms against him 
would discover themselves his partisans, in order to deprive 
him of the occasion of attacking them and increasing the 
number of his friends, took the lead and assailed the palace. 
Upon this, those families of the people who had declared for 

h 2 

100 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. n. cn.8. a.d. 1343. 

the duke, seeing themselves boldly attacked, changed 
their minds, and all took part with the citizens, except 
Uguccione Buondelmonti, who retired into the palace, and 
Giannozzo Cavalcanti, who having withdrawn with some 
of his followers to the new market, mounted upon a 
bench, and begged that those who were going in arms 
to the piazza, would take the part of the duke. In order 
to terrify them, he exaggerated the number of his people, 
and threatened all with death who should obstinately perse- 
vere in their undertaking against their sovereign. But not 
finding any one either to follow him, or to chastise his inso- 
lence, and seeing his labour fruitless, he withdrew to his own 

In the meantime, the contest in the piazza between the 
people and the forces of the duke was very great; but 
although the place served them for defence, they were over- 
come, some yielding to the enemy, and others, quitting their 
horses, fled within the walls. Whilst this was going on, 
Corso and Amerigo Donati, with a part of the people, 
broke open the stinche, or prisons ; burnt the papers of the 
provost and of the public chamber ; pillaged the houses 
of the rectors, and slew all who had held offices under 
the duke whom they could find. The duke, finding the 
piazza in possession of his enemies, the city opposed to 
him, and without any hope of assistance, endeavoured by 
an act of clemency to recover the favour of the people. 
Having caused those whom he had made prisoners to be 
brought before him, with amiable and kindly expressions 
he set them at liberty, and made Antonio Adimari a knight, 
although quite against his will. He caused his own arms 
to be taken down, and those of the people to be replaced 
over the palace ; but these things coming out of season, 
and forced by his necessities, did him little good. He re- 
mained, notwithstanding all he did, besieged in the palace, 
and saw that having aimed at too much he had lost all, 
and would most likely, after a few days, die either of 
hunger, or by the weapons of his enemies. The citizens 
assembled in the church of Santa Reparata, to form the 
new government, and appointed fourteen citizens, half from 
the nobility and half from the people, who, with the arch- 
bishop, were invested with full authority to remodel the state 

a. ix. ch. 8. a.d. 1343. THE DUKE DEPARTS. 101 

of Florence. They also elected six others to take upon them 
the duties of provost, till he who should be finally chosen 
took office, the duties of which were usually performed by a 
subject of some neighbouring state. 

Many had come to Florence in defence of the people : 
amongst whom were a party from Sienna, with six ambassa- 
dors, men of high consideration in their own country. These 
endeavoured to bring the people and the duke to terms ; but 
the former refused to listen to any whatever, unless Gugliel- 
mo da Scesi and his son, with Cerrettieri Bisdomini, were first 
given up to them. The duke would not consent to this ; 
but being threatened by those who were shut up with him, 
he was forced to comply. The rage of men is certainly 
always found greater, and their revenge more furious upon 
the recovery of liberty, than when it has only been defended. 
Guglielmo and his son were placed amongst the thousands of 
their enemies, and the latter was not yet eighteen years 
old ; neither his beauty, his innocence, nor his youth, could 
save him from the fury of the multitude ; but both were in- 
instantly slain. Those who could not wound them whilst 
alive, wounded them after they were dead ; and not satisfied 
with tearing them to pieces, they hewed their bodies with 
swords, tore them with their hands, and even with their teeth. 
And that every sense might be satiated with vengeance, 
having first heard their moans, seen their wounds, and touched 
their lacerated bodies, they wished even the stomach to be 
satisfied, that having glutted the external senses, the one within 
might also have its share. This rabid fury, however hurtful 
to the father and son, was favourable to Cerrettieri ; for the 
multitude, wearied with their cruelty towards the former, quite 
forgot him, so that he, not being asked for, remained in the 
palace, and during night was conveyed safely away by his 

The rage of the multitude being appeased by their blood, 
an agreement was made that the duke and his people, with 
whatever belonged to him, should quit the city in safety ; 
that he should renounce all claim, of whatever kind, upon 
Florence, and that upon his arrival in the Casentino he should 
ratify his renunciation. On the sixth of August he set out, 
accompanied by many citizens, and having arrived at the 
Casentino he ratified the agreement, although unwillingly, 

102 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. n. ch.9.a.d.1343. 

and would not have kept his word if Count Simon had not 
threatened to take him back to Florence. This duke, as his 
proceedings testified, was cruel and avaricious, difficult to 
speak with, and haughty in reply. He desired the service 
of men, not the cultivation of their better feelings, and strove 
rather to inspire them with fear than love. Nor was his 
person less despicable than his manners ; he was short, 
his complexion was black, and he had a long thin beard. 
He was thus in every respect contemptible ; and at the end 
of ten months, his misconduct deprived him of the sovereignty 
which the evil counsel of others had given him. 


Many cities and territories, subject to the Florentines, rebel — Prudent 
conduct adopted upon this occasion — The city is divided into quarters — 
Disputes betwixt the nobility and the people — The bishop endeavours to 
reconcile them, but does not succeed — The government reformed by the 
people— Riot of Andrea Strozzi — Serious disagreements between the 
nobility and the people — They come to arms, and the nobility are sub- 
dued — The plague in Florence of which Boccaccio speaks. 

These events taking place in the city, induced all the depen- 
dencies of the Florentine state to throw off their yoke ; so 
that Arezzo, Castiglione, Pistoia, Volterra, Colle, and San 
Gemigniano rebelled. Thus Florence found herself deprived of 
both her tyrant and her dominions at the same moment, and in 
recovering her liberty, taught her subjects how they might 
become free. The duke being expelled, and the territories 
lost, the fourteen citizens and the bishop thought, it would 
be better to act kindly towards their subjects in peace, than 
to make them enemies by war, and to show a desire 
that their subjects should be free as well as themselves. 
They therefore sent ambassadors to the people of Arezzo, to re- 
nounce all dominion over that city, and to enter into a treaty 
with them ; to the end that as they could not retain them 
as subjects, they might make use of them as friends. 
They also, in the best manner they were able, agreed with 
the other places, that they should retain their freedom, and 
that, being free, they might mutually assist each other in the 
preservation of their liberties. This prudent course was 

B. ii. ch. 9. a.d. 1343. DOMESTIC CHANGES. 103 

attended with a most favourable result; for Arezzo, not 

many years afterwards, returned to the Florentine rule, and 

the other places in the course of a few months, returned* 

to their former obedience. Thus it frequently occurs that we ! , zp* 1 ^ 

sooner attain our ends by a seeming indifference to them, than \ 

by more obstinate pursuit. 

Having settled external affairs, they now turned to the 
consideration of those within the city ; and after some alter- 
cation between the nobility and the people, it was arranged 
that the nobility should form one third of the Signory and 
fill one half of the other offices. The city was, as we have 
before shown, divided into sixths ; and hence there would be 
six Signors, one for each sixth, except when, from some more 
than ordinary cause, there had been twelve or thirteen created: 
but when this had occurred they were again soon reduced to 
six. It now seemed desirable to make an alteration in this 
respect, as well because the sixths were not properly divided, 
as that, wishing to give their proportion to the Great, it 
became desirable to increase the number. They therefore 
divided the city into quarters, and for each created three 
Signors. They abolished the office of Gonfalonier of Justice, 
and also the Gonfaloniers of the companies of the people ; 
and instead of the twelve Buonuomini, or good men, created 
eight counsellors, four from each party. The government 
having been established in this manner, the city might have 
been in repose if the Great had been content to live in that 
moderation which civil society requires. But they produced 
a contrary result, for those out of office would not conduct 
themselves as citizens, and those who were in the government 
wished to be lords, so that every day furnished some new 
instance of their insolence and pride. These things were 
very grievous to the people, and they began to regret that 
for one tyrant put down, there had sprung up a thousand. 
The arrogance of one party and the anger of the other, rose 
to such a degree, that the heads of the people complained to 
the bishop of the improper conduct of the nobility, and what 
unfit associates they had become for the people ; and begged 
he would endeavour to induce them to be content with their 
share of administration in the other offices, and leave the 
magistracy of the Signory wholly to themselves. 

The bishop was naturally a well-meaning man, but his want 

104 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. u. ch. 9. a.d. 1343. 

of firmness rendered him easily influenced. Hence, at 
the instance of his associates, he at first favoured the 
duke of Athens, and afterwards, by the advice of other 
citizens, conspired against him. At the reformation of 
the government he had favoured the nobility, and now he 
appeared to incline towards the people, moved by the reasons 
which they had advanced. Thinking to find in others the 
same instability of purpose, he endeavoured to effect an 
amicable arrangement. With this design he called together 
the fourteen who were yet in office, and in the best terms he 
could imagine advised them to give up the Signory to the 
people, in order to secure the peace of the city ; and assured 
them, that if they refused ruin would most probably be the 

This discourse excited the anger of the nobility to the 
highest pitch, and Ridolfo de' Bardi reproved him in un- 
measured terms as a man of little faith ; reminding him 
of his friendship for the duke, to prove the duplicity of his 
present conduct, and saying, that in driving him away he had 
acted the part of a traitor. He concluded by telling him, that 
the honours they had acquired at their own peril, they would 
at their own peril defend. They then left the bishop, and in 
great wrath, informed their associates in the government, and 
all the families of the nobility, of what had been done. The 
people also expressed their thoughts to each other, and as 
the nobility made preparations for the defence of their Signors, 
they determined not to wait till they had perfected their 
arrangements ; and therefore, being armed, hastened to the 
palace, shouting, as they went along, that the nobility must 
give up their share in the government. 

The uproar and excitement were astonishing. The Signors 
of the nobility found themselves abandoned ; for their friends, 
seeing all the people in arms, did not dare to rise in their de- 
fence, but each kept within his own house. The Signors of the 
people endeavoured to abate the excitement of the multitude, by 
affirming their associates to be good and moderate men ; but, 
not succeeding in their attempt, to avoid a greatet evil, sent 
them home to their houses, whither they were with difficulty 
conducted. The nobility having left the palace, the office of 
the four councillors was taken from their party, and conferred 
upon twelve of the people. To the eight Signors who 

B. ji. ch. 9. a.d. 1343. SCARCITY OF FOOD. 105 

remained, a Gonfalonier of Justice was added, and sixteen 
Gonfaloniers of the companies of the people ; and the council 
was so reformed, that the government remained wholly in 
the hands of the popular party. 

At the time these events took place there was a great 
scarcity in this city, and discontent prevailed both among 
the highest and lowest classes ; in the latter for want of 
food, and in the former from having lost their power in 
the state. This circumstance induced Andrea Strozzi to 
think of making himself sovereign of the city. Selling his 
corn at a lower price than others did, a great many people 
flocked to his house ; emboldened by the sight of these, he 
one morning mounted his horse, and, followed by a consider- 
able number, called the people to arms, and in a short time 
drew together about 4000 men, with whom he proceeded to 
the Signory, and demanded that the gates of the palace 
should be opened. But the Signors, by threats and the 
force which they retained in the palace, drove them from the 
court : and then by proclamation so terrified them, that they 
gradually dropped off and returned to their homes, and Andrea, 
finding himself alone, with some difficulty escaped falling 
into the hands of the magistrates. 

This event, although an act of great temerity, and attended 
with the result that usually follows such attempts, raised a 
hope in the minds of the nobility of overcoming the people, 
seeing that the lowest of the plebeians were at enmity 
with them. And to profit by this circumstance, they 
resolved to arm themselves, and with justifiable force recover 
those rights of which they had been unjustly deprived. 
Their minds acquired such an assurance of success, that 
they openly provided themselves with arms, fortified their 
houses, and even sent to their friends in Lombardy for as- 
sistance. The people and the Signory made preparation 
for their defence, and requested aid from Perugia and 
Sienna, so that the city was filled with the armed fol- 
lowers of either party. The nobility on this side of the 
Arno divided themselves into three parts ; the one occu- 
pied the houses of the Cavicciulli, near the church of St. 
John ; another, the houses of the Pazzi and the Donati, near 
the great church of St. Peter ; and the third, those of the 
Cavalcanti in the New Market. Those beyond the river 

106 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. n. ch. 9. a.d. 1343- 

fortified the bridges and the streets in which their houses 
stood ; the Nerli defended the bridge of the Carraja ; the 
Frescobaldi and the Manelli, the church of the Holy Trinity ; 
and the Rossi and the Bardi, the bridge of the Rubaconte and 
the Old Bridge. The people were drawn together under the 
Gonfalon of justice and the ensigns of the companies of the 

Both sides being thus arranged in order of battle, the 
people thought it imprudent to defer the contest, and the attack 
was commenced by the Medici and the Rondinelli, who 
assailed the Cavicciulli, where the houses of the latter open 
upon the piazza of St. John. Here both parties contended 
with great obstinacy, and were mutually wounded, from the 
towers by stones and other missiles, and from below by 
arrows. They fought for three hours ; but the forces of the 
people continuing to increase, and the Cavicciulli finding 
themselves overcome by numbers, and hopeless of other 
assistance, submitted themselves to the people, who saved 
their houses and property ; and having disarmed them, ordered 
them to disperse among their relatives and friends, and remain 
unarmed. Being victorious in the first attack, they easily 
overpowered the Pazzi and the Donati, whose numbers were 
less than those they had subdued ; so that there only remained 
on this side the Arno, the Cavalcanti, who were strong both in 
respect of the post they had chosen and in their followers. 
Nevertheless, seeing all the Gonfalons against them, and that 
the others had been overcome by three Gonfalons alone, they 
yielded without offering much resistance. Three parts of the 
city were now in the hands of the people, and only one in 
possession of the nobility ; but this was the strongest, as 
well on account of those who held it, as from its situation, 
being defended by the Arno ; hence it was first necessary 
to force the bridges. The Old Bridge was first assailed and 
offered a brave resistance ; for the towers were armed, the 
streets barricaded, and the barricades defended by the most 
resolute men ; so that the people were repulsed with great 
loss. Finding their labour at this point fruitless, they en- 
deavoured to force the Rubaconte Bridge, but no better success 
resulting, they left four Gonfalons in charge of the two bridges, 
and with the others attacked the bridge of the Carraja. 
Here, although the Nerli defended themselves like brave 

r. ii. ch. 9. a.d 1344. THE BAKDI DEFEATED. 107 

men, they could not resist the fury of the people ; for this 
bridge, having no towers, was weaker than the others, and 
attacked by the Capponi, and many families of the 
people who lived in that vicinity. Being thus assailed on 
all sides, they abandoned the barricades and gave way to the 
people, who then overcame the Eossi and the Frescobaldi; for 
all those beyond the Arno took part with the conquerors. 

There was now no resistance made except by the Bardi, 
who remained undaunted, notwithstanding the failure of their 
friends, the union of the people against them, and the little 
chance of success which they seemed to have. They re- 
solved to die fighting, and rather see their houses burnt and 
plundered, than submit to the power of their enemies. They 
defended themselves with such obstinacy, that many fruitless 
attempts were made to overcome them, both at the Old 
Bridge and the Rubaeonte ; but their foes were always re- 
pulsed with loss. There had in former times been a street 
which led between the houses of the Pitti, from the Roman 
road to the walls upon Mount St. George. By this way the 
people sent six Gonfalons, with orders to assail their houses 
from behind. This attack overcame the resolution of the 
Bardi, and decided the day in favour of the people ; for when 
those who defended the barricades in the street learned 
that their houses were being plundered, they left the princi- 
pal fight and hastened to their defence. This caused the 
Old Bridge to be lost ; the Bardi fled in all directions and 
were received into the houses of the Quaratesi, Panzanesi, 
and Mozzi. The people, especially the lower classes, greedy 
for spoil, sacked and destroyed their houses, and pulled down 
and burnt their towers and palaces with such outrageous fury, 
that the most cruel enemy of the Florentine name would 
have been ashamed of taking part in such wanton destruction. 
The nobility being thus overcome, the people reformed the 
government ; and as they were of three kinds, the higher, 
the middle, and the lower class, it was ordered that the first 
should appoint two Signors ; the two latter three each, 
and that the Gonfalonier should be chosen alternately 
from either party. Besides this, all the regulations for the 
restraint of the nobility were renewed ; and in order to 
weaken them still more, many were reduced to the grade of 
the people. The ruin of the nobility was so complete, and 

108 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. hi. ch. 1. A.D. 1343L 

depressed them so much, that they never afterwards ventured 
to take arms for the recovery of their power, but soon be- 
came humbled and abject in the extreme. And thus Florence 
lost the generosity of her character and her distinction in arms. 
After these events the city remained in peace till the year 
1353. In the course of this period occurred the memo- 
rable plague, described with so much eloquence by Gio- 
vanni Boccaccio, and by which Florence lost 96,000 souls. 
In 1348, began the first war with the Visconti, occasioned by 
the archbishop, then prince of Milan ; and when this was 
concluded, dissensions again arose in the city ; for although 
the nobility were destroyed, fortune did not fail to cause new 
divisions and new troubles. 



Reflections upon the domestic discords of republics — A parallel between 
the discords of Rome and those of Florence — Enmities between the 
families of the Ricci and the Albizzi — Uguccione de' Ricci causes the 
laws against the Ghibellines to be renewed in order to injure the Albizzi 
— Piero degli Albizzi derives advantage from it — Origin of admonitions 
and the troubles which result from them — Uguccione de' Ricci mode- 
rates their injustice — Difficulties increase — A meeting of the citizens — 
They address the Signory — The Siguory attempt to remedy the evils. 

Those serious, though natural enmities, which occur between 
the popular classes and the nobility, arising from the desire 
of the latter to command, and the disinclination of the former 
to obey, are the causes of most of the troubles which take 
place in cities ; and from this diversity of purpose, all the 
other evils which disturb republics derive their origin. 
This kept Rome disunited ; and this, if it be allowable to com- 
pare small things with great, held Florence in disunion ; 
although in each city it produced a different result; for 
animosities were only beginning when the people and nobility 
of Rome contended, whilst ours were brought to a con- 

B. in. ch. 1. ad, 1350. FLORENCE UNLIKE ROME. 109 

elusion by the contentions of our citizens. A new law settled 
the disputes of Rome ; those of Florence were only terminated 
by the death and banishment of many of her best people. 
Those of Rome increased her military virtue, whilst that of 
Florence was quite extinguished by her divisions. The quarrels 
of Rome established different ranks of society, those of 
Florence abolished the distinctions which had previously 
existed. This diversity of effects must have been occasioned 
by the different purposes which the two people had in 
view. Whilst the people of Rome endeavoured to associate 
with the nobility in the supreme honours, those of Florence 
strove to exclude the nobility from all participation in them : 
as the desire of the Roman people was more reasonable, no 
particular offence was given to the nobility ; they therefore 
consented to it without having recourse to arms ; so that, 
after some disputes concerning particular points, both parties 
agreed to the enactment of a law which, while it satisfied the 
people, preserved the nobility in the enjoyment of their 

On the other hand, the demands of the people of Florence 
being insolent and unjust, the nobility, became desperate, 
prepared for their defence with their utmost energy, and 
thus bloodshed and the exile of citizens followed. The laws 
which were afterwards made, did not provide for the common 
good, but were framed wholly in favour of the conquerors. 
This too must be observed, that from the acquisition of power 
made by the people of Rome, their minds were very much 
improved ; for all the offices of state being attainable as 
well by the people as the nobility, the peculiar excellen- 
cies of the latter exercised a most beneficial influence upon 
the former ; and as the city increased in virtue she attained a 
more exalted greatness. 

But in Florence, the people being conquerors, the nobility 
were deprived of all participation in the government ; and, in 
order to regain a portion of it, it became necessary for 
them not only to seem like the people, but to be like them in 
behaviour, mind, and mode of living. Hence arose those 
changes in armorial bearings, and in the titles of families, 
which the nobility adopted, in order that they might seem to 
be of the people ; military virtue and generosity of feeling 
became extinguished in them ; the people not possessing 

110 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B.m. en. 1. a.d.1353. 

these qualities, they could not appreciate them, and Florence 
became by degrees more and more depressed and humiliated. 
The virtue of the Roman nobility degenerating into pride, 
the citizens soon found that the business of the state could 
not be carried on without a prince. Florence had now come 
to such a point, that with a comprehensive mind at the head 
of affairs she would easily have been made to take any form 
that he might have been disposed to give her ; as may be 
partly observed by a perusal of the preceding book. 

Having given an account of the origin of Florence, the 
commencement of her liberty, with the causes of her divi- 
sions, and shown how the factions of the nobility and the 
people ceased with the tyranny of the duke of Athens, and 
the ruin of the former, we have now to speak of the ani- 
mosities between the citizens and the plebeians, and the 
various circumstances which they produced. 

The nobility being overcome, and the war with the arch- 
bishop of Milan concluded, there did not appear any cause of 
dissension in Florence. But the evil fortune of the city, and 
the defective nature of her laws, gave rise to enmities between 
the family of the Albizzi and that of the Ricci, which divided 
her citizens as completely as those of the Buondelmonti and 
the Uberti, or the Donati and the Cerchi had formerly done. 
The pontiffs, who at this time resided in France, and the em- 
perors, who abode in Germany, in order to maintain their 
influence in Italy, sent amongst us multitudes of soldiers of 
many countries, as English, Dutch, and Bretons. As these, 
upon the conclusion of a war, were thrown out of pay, though 
still in the country, they, under the standard of some soldier 
of fortune, plundered such people as were least prepared to 
defend themselves. In the year 1353 one of these companies 
came into Tuscany under the command of Monsignor Reale, 
of Provence, and his approach terrified all the cities of Italy. 
The Florentines not only provided themselves forces, but 
many citizens, amongst whom were the Albizzi and the Ricci, 
armed themselves in their own defence. These families were 
at the time full of hatred against each other, and each thought 
to obtain the sovereignty of the republic by overcoming his 
enemy. They had not yet proceeded to open violence, but 
only contended in the magistracies and councils. The city 
being all in arms, a quarrel arose in the Old Market Place ; THE RTCCI AND ALBIZZI. Ill 

and, as it frequently happens in similar cases, a great number 
of people was drawn together. The disturbance spreading, 
it was told the Ricci that the Albizzi had assailed their par- 
tisans, and to the Albizzi that the Ricci were in quest of 
them. Upon this the whole city arose, and it was all the 
magistrates could do to restrain these families, and prevent 
the actual occurrence of a disaster which, without being the 
fault of either of them, had been wilfully though falsely re- 
ported as having already taken place. This apparently 
trifling circumstance served to inflame the minds of the 
parties, and make each the more resolved to increase the 
number of their followers. And as the citizens, since the 
ruin of the nobility, were on such an equality that the ma- 
gistrates were more respected now than they had previously 
been, they designed to proceed towards the suppression of 
this disorder with civil authority alone. 

We have before related, that after the victory of Charles 
I. the government was formed of the Guelphic party, and 
that it thus acquired great authority over the Ghibellines. 
But time, a variety of circumstances, and new divisions had 
so contributed to sink this party feeling into oblivion, that 
many of Ghibelline descent now filled the highest offices. 
Observing this, Uguccione, the head of the family of . the 
Ricci, contrived that the law against the Ghibellines should be 
again brought into operation ; many imagining the Albizzi 
to be of that faction, they having arisen in Arezzo, and come 
long ago to Florence. Uguccione by this means hoped to 
deprive the Albizzi of participation in the government, for all 
of Ghibelline blood who were found to hold offices, would be 
condemned in the penalties which this law provided. The 
design of Uguccione was discovered to Piero son of Filippo 
degli Albi/zi, and he resolved to favour it ; for he saw that 
to oppose it would at once declare him a Ghibelline ; and 
thus the law which was renewed by the ambition of the 
for his destruction, instead of robbing Piero degli 
Albizzi of reputation, contributed to increase his influence, 
although it laid the foundation of many evils. Nor is it 
possible for a republic to enact a law more pernicious than 
one relating to matters which have long transpired. Piero 
having favoured this law, which had been contrived by his 
enemies for his stumbling-block, it became the stepping-stone 

112 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B.m. ch. 1. a c. 13C6L 

to his greatness ; for, making himself the leader of this new 
order of things, his authority went on increasing, and he was 
in greater favour with the Guelphs than any other man. 

As there could not be found a magistrate willing to seareh 
out who were Ghibellines, and as this renewed enactment 
against them was therefore of small value, it was provided that 
authority should be given to the Capitani to find who were of 
this faction ; and, having discovered, to signify and admonish 
them that they were not to take upon themselves any office 
of government ; to which admonitions, if they were disobe- 
dient, they became condemned in the penalties. Hence, all 
those who in Florence are deprived of the power to hold 
offices are called ammonifi, or admonished. 

The Capitani in time acquiring greater audacity, admonished 
not only those to whom the admonition was applicable, but 
any others at the suggestion of their own avarice or am- 
bition ; and from 1356, when this law was made, to 1366, 
there had been admonished above 200 citizens. The Captains 
of the Parts and the sect of the Guelphs were thus become 
powerful ; for every one honoured them for fear of being 
admonished; and most particularly the leaders, who were 
Piero degli Albizzi, Lapo da Castiglionchio, and Carlo 
Strozzi. This insolent mode of proceeding was offensive to 
many ; but none felt so particularly injured with it as the 
Ricci ; for they knew themselves to have occasioned it, they 
saw it involved the ruin of the republic, and their enemies, the 
Albizzi, contrary to their intention, become great in consequence. 

On this account Uguccione de' Ricci, being one of the 
Signory, resolved to put an end to the evil which he and his 
friends had originated, and with a new law provided that to 
the six Captains of Parts an additional three should be ap- 
pointed, of whom two should be chosen from the companies 
of minor artificers, and that before any party could be con- 
sidered Ghibelline, the declaration of the Capitani must be 
confirmed by twenty-four Guelphic citizens, appointed for the 
purpose. This provision tempered for the time the power of 
the Capitani, so that the admonitions were greatly diminished, 
if not wholly laid aside. Still the parties of the Albizzi and 
the Ricci were continually on the alert to oppose each other's 
laws, deliberations, and enterprises, not from a conviction of 
their inexpediency, but from hatred of their promoters. 

B tii. or. 1. a.d.1371. THE CITIZENS' ADDRESS. 113 

In such distractions the time passed from 1366 to 1371, 
when the Guelphs again regained the ascendant. There was 
in the family of the Buondelmonti a gentleman named 
Benchi, who, as an acknowledgment of his merit in a war 
against the Pisans, though one of the nobility, had been 
admitted amongst the people, and thus became eligible to 
office amongst the Signory ; but w r hen about to take his seat 
with them, a law was made that no nobleman who had be- 
come of the popular class should be allowed to assume that 
office. This gave great offence to Benchi, w'ho, in union with 
Piero degli Albizzi, determined to depress the less powerful 
of the popular party with admonitions, and obtain the govern- 
ment for themselves. By the interest which Benchi 
possessed with the ancient nobility, and that of Piero with 
most of the influential citizens, the Guelphic party resumed 
their ascendancy, and by new reforms among the Parts, so 
remodelled the administration as to be able to dispose of the 
offices of the captains and. the tw r enty-four citizens at plea- 
sure. They then returned to the admonitions with greater 
audacity than ever, and the house of the Albizzi became 
powerful as the head of this faction. 

On the other hand, the Bicci made the most strenuous 
exertions against their designs ; so that anxiety universally 
prevailed, .and ruin was apprehended alike from both parties. 
In consequence of this a great number of citizens, out of love to 
their country, assembled in the church of St. Piero Scarraggio, 
and after a long consideration of the existing disorders, pre- 
sented themselves before the signors, whom one of the prin- 
cipal among them addressed in the following terms : — 

4t Many of us, magnificent Signors ! were afraid of meeting 
even for consideration of public business, without being 
publicly called together, lest we should be noted as pre- 
sumptuous or condemned as ambitious. But seeing that 
many citizens daily assemble in the lodges and halls of the 
palace, not for any public utility, but only for the gratifi- 
cation of their own ambition, we have thought that as 
those who assemble for the ruin of the republic are fearless, 
so still less ought they to be apprehensive who meet 
together only for its advantage ; nor ought we to be anxious 
respecting the opinion they may form of our assembling, 
since they are so utterly indifferent to the opinion of others. 

114 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. ' B. in. ch. 1. a.d. 1371. 

Our affection for our country, magnificent Signors ! caused 
us to assemble first, and now brings us before you, to 
speak of grievances already great and daily increasing in our 
republic, and to offer our assistance for their removal ; and 
we doubt not that, though a difficult undertaking, it will still 
be attended with success, if you will lay aside all private 
regards, and authoritatively use the public force. 

" The common corruption of all the cities of Italy, mag- 
nificent Signors ! has infested and still vitiates your own ; for 
when this province had shaken off the imperial yoke, her 
cities not being subject to any powerful influence that might 
restrain them, administered affairs, not as free men do, but as 
a factious populace ; and hence have arisen all the other evils 
and disorders that have appeared. In the first place, there 
cannot be found amongst the citizens either unity or friend- 
ship, except with those whose common guilt, either against 
their country or against private individuals, is a bond of 
union. And as the knowledge of religion and the fear of 
God seem to be alike extinct, oaths and promises have lost 
their validity, and are kept as long as it is found expedient ; 
they are adopted only as a means of deception, and he is 
most applauded and respected whose cunning is most efficient 
and secure. On this account bad men are received with the 
approbation due to virtue, and good ones are regarded only 
in the light of fools. 

" And certainly in the cities of Italy all that is corruptible 
and corrupting is assembled. The young are idle, the old 
lascivious, and each sex and every age abounds with debasing 
habits, which the good laws, by misapplication, have lost the 
power to correct. Hence arises the avarice so observable 
amongst the citizens, and that greediness, not for true glory, 
but for unworthy honours ; from which follow hatred, ani- 
mosities, quarrels, and factions ; resulting in deaths, banish- 
ments, affliction to all good men, and the advancement of the 
most unprincipled ; for the good, confiding in their innocence, 
seek neither safety nor advancement by illegal methods as 
the wicked do, and thus unhonoured and undefended they 
sink into oblivion. 

" From proceedings such as these, arise at once the attach- 
ment for and influence of parties ; bad men follow them 
through ambition and avarice, and necessity compels the 

1 a.d.1371 THE CITIZENS' ADDRESS. 115 

to pursue the same course. And most lamentable is it 
to observe how the leaders and movers of parties sanctify 
their base designs with words that are all piety and virtue ; 
they have the name of liberty constantly in their mouths, 
though their actions prove them her greatest enemies. The 
reward which they desire from victory is not the glory of 
having given liberty to the city, but the satisfaction of having 
vanquished others, and of making themselves rulers ; and to 
attain their end, there is nothing too unjust, too cruel, too 
avaricious for them to attempt. Thus laws and ordinances, 
peace, wars, and treaties are adopted and pursued, not for the 
public good, not for the common glory of the state, but for 
the convenience or advantage of a few individuals. 

"And if other cities abound in these disorders, ours is 
more than any infected with them ; for her laws, statutes, and 
civil ordinances are not, nor have they ever been, established 
for the benefit of men in a state of freedom, but accord- 
ing to the wish of the faction that has been uppermost at the 
time. Hence it follows, that when one party is expelled, or 
faction extinguished, another immediately arises ; for, in a 
city that is governed by parties rather than by laws, as soon 
as one becomes dominant and unopposed, it must of necessity 
soon divide against itself; for the private methods at first 
adopted for its defence, will now no longer keep it united. 
The truth of this, both the ancient and modern dissensions 
of our city, prove. Every one thought that when the 
Ghibellines were destroyed, the Guelphs would long continue 
happy and honoured ; yet after a short time they divided 
into Bianchi and Neri, the black faction and the white 
When the Bianchi were overcome, the city was not long free 
from factions ; for either, in favour of the emigrants, or on 
account of the animosity between the nobility and the people, 
we were still constantly at war. And as if resolved to give 
up to others, what in mutual harmony we either would not or 
were unable to retain, we confided the care of our precious 
liberty first to King Robert, then to his brother, next to his 
son, and at last to the duke of Athens. Still we have never 
in any condition found repose, but seem like men who can 
neither agree to live in freedom nor be content with slavery. 
Nor did we hesitate (so greatly does the nature of our ordi- 
nances dispose us to division), whilst yet under allegiance to 

i 2 

116 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B iil ch. 1. a.d. 1371. 

the king, to substitute for his majesty, one of the vilest of 
men born at Agobbio. 

* k For the credit of the city, the name of the duke of Athens 
ought to be consigned to oblivion. His cruel and tyrannical 
disposition however, might have taught us wisdom and in- 
structed us how to live ; but no sooner was he expelled than 
we handled our arms, and fought with more hatred, and 
greater fury than we had ever done on any former occasion ; 
so that the ancient nobility were vanquished and the city was 
left at the disposal of the people. It was generally supposed 
that no further occcasion of quarrel or of party animosity 
could arise, since those whose pride and insupportable 
ambition had been regarded as the causes of them were de- 
pressed ; however, experience proves how liable human judg- 
ment is to error, and what false impresssions men imbibe, 
even in regard to the things that most intimately concern 
them ; for we find the pride and ambition of the nobility are 
not extinct, but only transferred from them to the people who 
;d this moment, according to the usual practice of ambitious 
men, are endeavouring to render themselves masters of the 
republic ; and knowing they have no chance of success but 
what is offered by discord, they have again divided the city, 
and the names of Guelph and Ghibelline, which were begin- 
ning to be forgotten (and it would have been well if they had 
never been heard among us), are repeated anew in our ears. 

"It seems almost necessarily ordained, in order that in 
human affairs there may be nothing either settled or perma- 
nent, that in all republics there are what may be called fatal 
families, born for the ruin of their country. Of this kind of 
pest our city has produced a more copious brood than any 
other ; for not one but many have disturbed and harassed her : 
first the Buondelmonti and the Uberti ; then the Donati and 
the Cerchi ; and now, oh ridiculous ! oh disgraceful thought ! 
the Ricci and the Albizzi have caused a division of her citizens. 

" We have not dwelt upon our corrupt habits or our old 
rnd continual dissensions to occasion you alarm, but to remind 
you of their causes ; to show that as you doubtless are aware 
of them, we also keep them in view, and to remind you that 
their results ought not to make you diffident of your power to 
repress the disorders of the present time. The ancient fami- 
lies possessed so much influence, and were held in such high 

B. ru.cH. 1. a.d. 1371. NEW REGULATIONS. 117 

esteem, that civil force was insufficient to restrain them ; but 
now. when the empire has lost its ascendancy, the pope 
is no longer formidable, and the whole of Italy is reduced to 
a state of the most complete equality, there can be no diffi- 
culty. Our republic might more especially than any 
other (although at first our former practices seem to pre- 
sent a reason to the contrary), not only keep itself united but 
be improved by good laws and civil regulations, if you, the 
Signory, would once resolve to undertake the matter ; and 
to this we, induced by no other motive than the love of our 
country, would most strongly urge you. It is true the cor- 
ruption of the country is great, and much discretion will be 
requisite to correct it ; but do not impute the past disorders to 
the nature of the men, but to the times, which, being changed, 
give reasonable ground to hope that, with better government, 
our city will be attended with better fortune ; for the malig- 
nity of the people will be overcome by restraining the ambition 
and annulling the ordinances of those who have encouraged 
faction, and adopting in their stead only such principles as 
are conformable to true civil liberty. And be assured, that 
these desirable ends will be more certainly attained by the 
benign influence of the laws, than by a delay which will 
compel the people to effect them by force and arms." 

The Signory, induced by the necessity of the case, of which 
they were previously aware, and further encouraged by the 
advice of those who now addressed them, gave authority to 
fifty-six citizens to provide for the safety of the republic. It 
is usually found that most men are better adapted to pursue a 
good course already begun, than to discover one applicable to 
immediate circumstances. These citizens thought rather of 
extinguishing existing factions than of preventing the forma- 
tion of new ones, and effected neither of these objects. The 
facilities for the establishment of new parties were not removed ; 
and out of those which they guarded against, another more 
powerful arose, which brought the republic into still greater 
danger. They, however, deprived three of the family of the 
Albizzi, and three of that of the Ricci, of all the offices of 
government, except those of the Guelphic party, for three 
years ; and amongst the deprived were Piero degli Albizzi and 
Uguccione de' Ricci. They forbade the citizens to assemble 
in the palace, except during the sittings of the Signory. They 

118 HISTOSY OF FLORENCE. B. in. ch. 2. a.d. 1372. 

provided that if any one were beaten, or possession of his 
property detained from him, he might bring his case before 
the council and denounce the offender, even if he were one of 
the nobility ; and that if it were proved, the accused should 
be subject to the usual penalties. This provision abated the 
boldness of the Ricci, and increased that of the Albizzi ; since, 
although it applied equally to both, the Ricci suffered from 
it by far the most ; for if Piero was excluded from the palace 
of the Signory, the chamber of the Guelphs, in which he 
possessed the greatest authority, remained open to him ; and 
if he and his followers had previously been ready to admonish, 
they became after this injury, doubly so. To this pre-dispo- 
sition for evil, new excitements were added. 


The war of the Florentines against the pope's legate, and the causes of it — 
League against the pope — The censures of the pope disregarded in 
Florence — The city is divided into two factions, the one the Capitani 
di Parte, the other of the eight commissioners of the war — Mea- 
sures adopted by the Guelphic party against their adversaries — The 
Guelphs endeavour to prevent Salvestro de Medici from being chosen 
Gonfaloniere — Salvestro de Medici Gonfaloniere — His law against the 
nobility, and in favour of the Ammoniti — The Collegi disapprove of the 
law — Salvestro addresses the council in its favour — The law is passed — 
Disturbances in Florence. 

The papal chair was occupied by Gregory XL He, like his 
predecessors, residing at Avignon, governed Italy by legates, 
who, proud and avaricious, oppressed many of the cities. 
One of these legates, then at Bologna, taking advantage of a 
great scarcity of food at Florence, endeavoured to render 
himself master of Tuscany, and not only withheld provisions 
from the Florentines, but in order to frustrate their hopes of 
the future harvest, upon the approach of spring, attacked 
them with a large army, trusting, that being famished and 
unarmed, he should find them an easy conquest. He might 
perhaps have been successful, had not his forces been mer- 
cenary and faithless, and, therefore, induced to abandon the 
enterprise for the sum of 130,000 florins, which the Floren- 

ti. cu. 2. a.d. 1375. WAR WITH. THE POPE. 119 

;s paid them. People may go to war when they will, but 
inot always withdraw when they like. This contest, com- 
menced by the ambition of the legate, was continued by the 
resentment of the Florentines, who, entering into a league 
with Bernabo of Milan, and with the cities hostile to the 
church, appointed eight citizens for the administration of 
it, giving them authority to act without appeal, and to ex- 
pend whatever sums they might judge expedient, without 
rendering an account of the outlay. 

This war against the pontiff, although Uguccione was now 
dead, re-animated those who had followed the party of the 
Ricci, who, in opposition to the Albizzi, had always favoured 
Bernabo and opposed the church, and this, the rather, 
because the eight commissioners of war were all enemies of 
the Guelphs. This occasioned Piero degli Albizzi, Lapo 
da Castiglionchio, Carlo Strozzi, and others, to unite them- 
selves more closely in opposition to their adversaries. 
The Eight carried on the war, and the others admonished 
during three years, when the death of the pontiff put an end 
to the hostilities, which had been carried on with so much 
ability, and with such entire satisfaction to the people, that 
at the end of each year the Eight were continued in office, 
and were called Santi, or holy, although they had set ecclesi- 
astical censures at defiance, plundered the churches of their 
property, and compelled the priests to perform divine service. 
So much did citizens at that time prefer the good of their 
country to their ghostly consolations, and thus showed the 
church, that if as her friends they had defended, they could 
as enemies depress her ; for the whole of Romagna, the 
Marches, and Perugia w r ere excited to rebellion. 

Yet whilst this war was carried on against the pope, they 
were unable to defend themselves against the Captains of the 
Parts and their faction ; for the insolence of the Guelphs against 
the Eight attained such a pitch, that they could not restrain 
themselves from abusive behaviour, not merely against some 
of the most distinguished citizens, but even against the Eight 
themselves ; and the Captains of the Parts conducted themselves 
with such arrogance, that they were feared more than the Sig- 
nory. Those who had business with them treated them with 
greater reverence, and their court was held in higher estimation ; 

120 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. in. ni. 2. a.d. 137R 

so that no ambassador came to Florence, without commis- 
sion to the Captains. 

Pope Gregory being dead, and the city freed from external 
war, there still prevailed great confusion within ; for the 
audacity of the Guelphs was insupportable, and as no 
available mode of subduing them presented itself, it was 
thought that recourse must be had to arms, to determine 
which party was the strongest. With the Guelphs were all 
the ancient nobility, and the greater part of the most powerful 
popular leaders, of which number, as already remarked, were 
Lapo, Piero, and Carlo. On the other side, were all the 
lower orders, the leaders of whom were the eight com- 
missioners of war, Giorgio Scali and Tommaso Strozzi, and 
with them the Ricci, Alberti, and Medici. The rest of the 
multitude, as most commonly happens, joined the discon- 
tented party. 

It appeared to the heads of the Guelphic faction that their 
enemies would be greatly strengthened, and themselves in 
considerable danger in case a hostile Signory should resolve 
on their subjugation. Desirous, therefore, of being prepared 
against this calamity, the leaders of the party assembled to take 
into consideration the state of the city, and that of their own 
friends in particular, and found the ammoniti so numerous and 
so great a difficulty, that the whole city was excited against them 
on this account. They could not devise any other remedy 
than, that as their enemies had deprived them of all the offices 
of honour, they should banish their opponents from the city, 
take possession of the palace of the Signory, and bring over the 
whole state to their own party ; in imitation of the Guelphs 
of former times, who found no safety in the city, till they had 
driven all their adversaries out of it. They were unanimous 
upon the main point, but did not agree upon the time of carrying 
it into execution. It was in the month of April, in the year 
1378, when Lapo, thinking delay unadvisable, expressed 
his opinion, that procastination was in the highest degree 
perilous to themselves ; as in the next Signory, Salvestro de' 
Medici would very probably be elected Gonfalonier, and they 
all knew he was opposed to their party. Piero degli Albizzi, 
on the other hand, thought it better to defer, since they would 
require forces, which could not be assembled without ex- 

B. in. on. 2 a.d. 137a SALVESTRO DE MEDICI. 121 

citing observation, and if they were discovered, they would 
incur great risk. He thereupon judged it preferable to wait 
till the approaching feast of St. John, on which, being the 
most solemn festival of the city, vast multitudes would be as- 
sembled, amongst whom they might conceal whatever numbers 
they pleased. To obviate their fears of Salvestro, he was to 
be admo?iished 1 and if this did not appear likely to be 
effectual, they would " admonish'" one of the Colleague of his 
quarter, and upon re-drawing, as the ballot-boxes would 
be nearly empty, chance would very likely occasion that 
either he or some associate of his would be drawn, and he 
would thus be rendered incapable of sitting as Gonfalonier. 
They therefore came to the conclusion proposed by Piero, 
though Lapo consented reluctantly, considering the delay 
dangerous, and that, as no opportunity can be in all respects 
suitable, he who waits for the concurrence of every advan- 
tage, either never makes an attempt, or, if induced to do so, 
is most frequently foiled. They "admonished" the Colleague, 
but did not prevent the appointment of Salvestro, for the de- 
sign was discovered by the Eight, who took care to render 
all attempts upon the drawing futile. 

Salvestro Alamanno de' Medici was therefore drawn Gon- 
falonier, and, being of one of the noblest popular families, 
he could not endure that the people should be oppressed 
by a few powerful persons. Having resolved to put an 
end to their insolence, and perceiving the middle classes 
favourably disposed, and many of the highest of the people 
on his side, he communicated his design to Benedetto Alberti, 
Tommaso Strozzi, and Georgio Scali, who all promised 
their assistance. They, therefore, secretly drew up a law 
which had for its object to revive the restrictions upon the 
nobility, to retrench the authority of the Capitani di Parte, 
and recall the ammoniti to their dignity. In order to attempt 
and obtain their ends, at one and the same time, having to 
consult, first the Colleagues and then the Councils, Salvestro 
being Provost (which office for the time makes its possessor 
almost prince of the city), he called together the Colleagues and 
the Council on the same morning, and the Colleagues being 
apart, he proposed the law prepared by himself and his friends, 
which, being a novelty, encountered in their small number so 
much opposition, that he was unable to have it passed. 

122 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. in. ch. 2. a.d 1370. 

Salvcstro, seeing his first attempt likely to fail, pretended 
to leave the room for a private reason, and, without being 
perceived, went immediately to the Council, and taking a 
lofty position from which he could be both seen and heard, 
said : — " That considering himself invested with the office 
of Gonfalonier, not so much to preside in private cases (for 
which proper judges were appointed, who have their regular 
sittings), as to guard the state, correct the insolence of the 
powerful, and ameliorate those laws by the influence of which 
the republic was being ruined, he had carefully attended to 
both these duties, and to his utmost ability provided for 
them, but found the perversity of some so much opposed to his 
just designs as to deprive him of all opportunity of doing good, 
and them not only of the means of assisting him with their 
counsel, but even hearing him. Therefore finding he no 
longer contributed either to the benefit of the republic or of 
the people generally, he could not perceive any reason for 
his longer holding the magistracy, of which he was either 
undeserving, or others thought him so, and would therefore 
retire to his house, that the people might appoint another 
in his stead, who would either have greater virtue or better 
fortune than himself." And having said this, he left the 
room as if to return home. 

Those of the council who were in the secret, and others 
desirous of novelty, raised a tumult, at which the Signory 
and the Colleagues came together, and finding the Gonfalo- 
nier leaving them, entreatingly and authoritatively detained 
him, and obliged him to return to the council-room, which 
was now full of confusion. Many of the noble citizens were 
threatened in opprobrious language ; and an artificer seized 
Carlo Strozzi by the throat, and would undoubtedly have 
murdered him, but was with difficulty prevented by those 
around. He who made the greatest disturbance, and incited 
the city to violence, was Benedetto degli Alberti, who, from 
a window of -the palace, loudly called the people to arms ; 
and presently the courtyards were filled with armed men, 
and the Colleagues granted to threats, what they had refused 
to entreaty. The Capitani di Parte had at the same time 
drawn together a great number of citizens to their hall, to 
consult upon the means of defending themselves against the 
orders of the Signors ; iut when they heard the tumult that 

ch.2. a.d. 1379- TUMULT OF THE ARTS. 123 

raised, and were informed of the course the Councils had 

)pted, each took refuge in his own house. 

iCt no one, when raising popular commotions, imagine 
he can afterwards control them at his pleasure, or restrain 
them from proceeding to the commission of violence. Sal- 
vestro intended to enact his law, and compose the city ; 
but it happened otherwise ; for the feelings of all had become 
so excited, that they shut up the shops ; the citizens fortified 
themselves in their houses ; many conveyed their valuable 
property into the churches and monasteries, and every one 
seemed to apprehend something terrible at hand. The com- 
panies of the Arts met, and each appointed an additional 
officer or Syndic ; upon which the Priors summoned their 
Colleagues and these Syndics, and consulted a whole day 
how the city might be appeased with satisfaction to the 
different parties ; but much difference of opinion prevailed, 
and no conclusion was come to. On the following day the 
Arts brought forth their banners, which the Signory under- 
standing, and being apprehensive of evil, called the Council 
together to consider what course to adopt. But scarcely 
were they met, when the uproar re-commenced, and soon the 
ensigns of the Arts, surrounded by vast numbers of armed 
men, occupied the courts. Upon this the Council, to give 
the Arts and the people hope of redress, and free themselves 
as much as possible from the charge of causing the mischief, 
gave a general power, which in Florence is called Balia, to 
the Signors, the Colleagues, the Eight, the Capitani di Parte, 
and to the Syndics of the Arts, to reform the government of 
the city, for the common benefit of all. Whilst this was being 
arranged, a few of the ensigns of the Arts and some of the 
mob, desirous of avenging themselves for the recent injuries 
they had received from the Guelphs, separated themselves 
from the rest, and sacked and burnt the house of Lapo da 
Castiglionchio, who, when he learned the proceedings of the 
Signory against the Guelphs, and saw the people in arms, 
having no other resource but concealment or flight, first took 
refuge in Santa Croce, and afterwards, being disguised as a 
monk, fled into the Casentino, where he was often heard to 
blame himself for having consented to wait till St. John's 
day, before they had made themselves sure of the govern- 
ment. Piero degli Albizzi and Carlo Strozzi hid themselves 

124 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. m. ch. 3. a.d. 1379. 

upon the first outbreak of the tumult, trusting that when it 
was over, by the interest of their numerous friends and rela- 
tions, they might remain safely in Florence. 

The house of Lapo being burnt, as mischief begins with 
difficulty but easily increases, many other houses, either 
through public hatred, or private malice, shared the same 
fate ; and the rioters, that they might have companions 
more eager than themselves to assist them in their work of 
plunder, broke open the public prisons, and then sacked the 
monastery of the Agnoli and the convent of S. Spirito, 
whither many citizens had taken their most valuable goods 
for safety. Nor would the public chambers have escaped 
these destroyers' hands, except out of reverence for one of 
the Signors, who on horseback, and followed by many citizens 
in arms, opposed the rage of the mob. 


Contrary measures adopted by the magistrates to effect a pacification — 
Luigi Guicciardini the Gonfalonier entreats the magistrates of the Arts 
to endeavour to pacify the people — Serious riot caused by the plebeians 
— The woollen Art— the plebeians assemble — The speech of a seditious 
plebeian — Their resolution thereupon — The Signory discover the designs 
of the plebeians — Measures adopted to counteract them. 

This popular fury being abated by the authority of the 
Signors and the approach of night, on the following day, 
the Balia relieved the admonished, on condition that they 
should not for three years be capable of holding any magis- 
tracy. They annulled the laws made by the Guelphs to the 
prejudice of the citizens ; declared Lapo da Castiglionchio 
and his companions, rebels, and with them many others, who 
were the objects of universal detestation. After these reso- 
lutions, the new Signory were drawn for, and Luigi Guicciar- 
dini appointed Gonfalonier, which gave hope that the 
tumults would soon be appeased ; for every one thought 
them to be peaceable men and lovers of order. Still the 
shops were not opened, nor did the citizens lay down their 
arms, but continued to patrol the city in great numbers ; so 

fc.lll.CH. 3. A.D. 1379. ADDRESS OF GUICCIAKDINI. 125 

that the Signory did not assume the magistracy with the 
usual pomp, but merely assembled within the palace, omitting 
all ceremony. 

This Signory, considering nothing more advisable in 
the beginning of their magistracy than to restore peace, 
caused a relinquishment of arms ; ordered the shops to 
be opened, and the strangers who had been called to their 
aid, to return to their homes. They appointed guards in 
many parts of the city, so that if the admonished would only 
have remained quiet, order would soon have been re-esta- 
blished. But they were not satisfied to wait three years for 
the recovery of their honours ; so that to gratify them the 
Arts again met, and demanded of the Signory, that for the 
benefit and quiet of the city, they would ordain that no 
citizens should at any time, whether Signor, Colleague, Capitano 
di Parte, or Consul of any art whatever, be admonished as a 
Ghibelline ; and further, that new ballots of the Guelphic 
party should be made, and the old ones burnt. These de- 
mands were at once acceded to, not only by the Signors, but 
by all the Councils ; and thus it was hoped the tumults newly 
excited would be settled. 

But since men are not satisfied with recovering what is 
their own, but wish to possess the property of others and to 
revenge themselves, those who were in hopes of benefiting 
by these disorders persuaded the artificers that they would 
never be safe, if several of their enemies were not expelled 
from the city or destroyed. This terrible doctrine coming to 
the knowledge of the Signory, they caused the magistrates of 
the Arts and their Syndics to be brought before them, and 
Luigi Guicciardini, the Gonfalonier, addressed them in the 
following words. " If these Signors, and I with them, had 
not long been acquainted with the fate of this city, that as 
soon as external wars have ceased the internal commence, 
we should have been more surprised, and our displeasure 
would have been greater. But as evils to which we are 
accustomed are less annoying, we have endured past dis- 
turbances patiently, they having arisen for the most part 
without our fault ; and we hoped that, like former troubles, 
they would soon have an end, after the many and great con- 
cessions we had made at your suggestion. But finding that 
you are yet unsettled, that you contemplate the commission 

126 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B.m. ch. 3. a.d. 1379. 

of new crimes against your fellow citizens, and are desirous 
of making new exiles, our displeasure increases in proportion 
to your misconduct. And certainly, could we have believed 
that during our magistracy the city was to be ruined, whether 
with or without your concurrence, we should certainly, either 
by flight or exile, have avoided these horrors. But trusting 
that we had to do with those who possessed some feelings of 
humanity and some love of their country, we willingly ac- 
cepted the magistracy, thinking that by our gentleness we 
should overcome your ambition. But we perceive from 
experience that the more humble our behaviour, the more 
concessions we make, the prouder you become, and the more 
exorbitant are your demands. And though we speak thus, it 
is not in order to offend, but to amend you. Let others tell 
you pleasing tales, our design is to communicate only what 
is for your good. Now we would ask you, and have you 
answer on your honour, What is there yet ungranted that 
you can, with any appearance of propriety, require ? You 
wished to have authority taken from the Capitani di Parte ; 
and it is done. You wished that the ballotings should be 
burnt, and a reformation of them take place ; and we consent. 
You desired that the admonished should be restored to their 
honours ; and it is permitted. At your entreaty we have 
pardoned those who have burnt down houses and plundered 
churches ; many honourable citizens have been exiled to 
please you ; and at your suggestion new restraints have been 
laid upon the Great. When, will there be an end of your 
demands ? and how long will you continue- to abuse our 
liberality ? Do you not observe with how much more modera- 
tion we bear defeat than you your victory? To what end 
will your divisions bring our city ? Have you forgotten that 
when disunited Castruccio, a low citizen of Lucca, subdued 
her ? or that a duke of Athens, your hired captain, did so 
too ? But when the citizens were united in her defence, an 
archbishop of Milan and a pope were unable to subdue it, 
and, after many years of war, were compelled to retire with 

"Then why would you, by your discords, reduce to slavery 
in a time of peace, that city, which so many powerful enemies 
have left free, even in war ? What can you expect from your 
disunion but subjugation * or from the property of which 

■ ii. 3.a.d. 1379. PLEBEIANS DISCONTENTED. 127 

vou already have plundered, or may yet plunder us, but 
poverty ? for this property is the means by which we furnish 
occupation for the whole city, and if you take it from us, our 
of finding that occupation is withdrawn. Besides, 
those who take it will have difficulty in preserving what is 
dishonestly acquired, and thus poverty and destitution are 
brought upon the city. Now, I, and these Signors command, 
and if it were consistent with propriety, we would entreat that 
you allow your minds to be calmed ; be content, rest satisfied 
with the provisions that have been made for you ; and if 
you should be found to need anything further, make your 
request with decency and order, and not with tumult ; for 
when your demands are reasonable they will always be com- 
plied with, and you will not give occasion to evil designing 
men to ruin your country and cast the blame upon your- 
selves." These words, conveying nothing but the truth, 
produced a suitable effect upon the minds of the citizens, 
who thanking the Gonfalonier for having acted towards them 
the part of a kind Signor, and towards the city that of a 
good citizen, offered their obedience in whatever might be 
committed to them. And the Signors, to prove the sin- 
cerity of their intentions, appointed two citizens for each 
of the superior magistracies, who, with Syndics of the arts, 
were to consider what could be done to restore quiet, and re- 
port their resolutions to the Signors. 

Whilst these things were in progress, a disturbance arose, 
much more injurious to the republic than anything that had 
hitherto occurred. The greatest part of the fires and rob- 
beries which took place on the previous days were perpe- 
trated by the very lowest of the people ; and those who had 
been the most audacious, were afraid that when the greater 
differences were composed, they would be punished for the 
crimes they had committed ; and that as usual, they would be 
abandoned by those who had instigated them to the commis- 
sion of crime. To this may be added, the hatred of the 
lower orders towards the rich citizens and the principals of 
the Arts, because they did not think themselves remunerated 
for their labour in a manner equal to their merits. For in the 
time of Charles I., when the city was divided into Arts, a 
head or governor was appointed to each, and it was provided 
that the individuals of each art, should be judged in civil 

128 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. in. tn. 3. a.d.1379. 

matters by their own superiors. These arts, as we have be- 
fore observed, were at first twelve ; in the course of time they 
were increased to twenty-one, and attained so much power, 
that in a few years they grasped the entire government of 
the city ; and as some were in greater esteem than others, 
they were divided into major and minor ; seven were called 
u major," and fourteen, the " minor arts." From this divi- 
sion, and from other causes which we have narrated above, 
arose the arrogance of the Capitani di Parte ; for those citi- 
zens who had formerly been Guelphs, and had the constant 
disposal of that magistracy, favoured the followers of the 
major and persecuted the minor arts and their patrons ; and 
hence arose the many commotions already mentioned. When 
the companies of the arts were first organized, many of those 
trades, followed by the lowest of the people and the plebeians, 
were not incorporated, but were ranged under those arts 
most nearly allied to them ; and, hence, when they were not 
properly remunerated for their labour, or their masters op- 
pressed them, they had no one of whom to seek redress, 
except the magistrate of the art to which theirs was subject ; 
and of him they did not think justice always attainable. Of 
the arts, that which always had, and now has, the greatest 
number of these subordinates, is the woollen ; which being 
both then, and still, the most powerful body, and first in 
authority, supports the greater part of the plebeians and 
lowest of the people. 

The lower classes, then, the subordinates not only of the 
woollen, but also of the other arts, were discontented, from 
the causes just mentioned ; and their apprehension of punish- 
ment for the burnings and robberies they had committed, did 
not tend to compose them. Meetings took place in different 
parts during night, to talk over the past, and to com- 
municate the danger in which they were, when one of the 
most daring and experienced, in order to animate the rest, 
spoke thus : — 

" If the question now were, whether we should take up 
arms, rob and burn the houses of the citizens, and plunder 
churches, I am one of those who would think it worthy of fur- 
ther consideration, and should, perhaps, prefer poverty andsafe- 
ty to the dangerous pursuit of an uncertain good. But as we 
have already armed, and many offences have been committed, 

I1.J&.CH.3.A.D. 1379- SPEECH 01" A PLEBEIAN. 129 

it appwirs to me that we have to consider how to ny thorn 
aside, and secure ourselves from the consequences of what is 
already done. I certainly think, that if nothing else could 
teach us, necessity might. You see the whole city full of 
complaint and indignation against us ; the citizens are closely 
united, and the Signors are constantly with the magistrates. 
You may be sure they are contriving something against us ; 
they are arranging some new plan to subdue us. We ought 
therefore to keep two things in view, and have two points to 
consider ; the one is, to escape with impunity for what has 
been done during the last few days, and the other, to 
live in greater comfort and security for the time to come. 
We must, therefore, I think, in order to be pardoned for our 
old faults, commit new ones ; redoubling the mischief, and mul- 
tiplying fires and robberies ; and in doing this, endeavour to 
have as many companions as we can ; for when many are in 
fault, few are punished ; small crimes are chastised, but great 
and serious ones rewarded. When many suffer, few seek 
vengeance ; for general evils are endured more patiently than 
private ones. To increase the number of misdeeds will, there- 
fore, make forgiveness more easily attainable, and will open 
the way to secure what we require for our own liberty. And it 
appears evident that the gain is certain ; for our opponents are 
disunited and rich ; their disunion will give us the victory, 
and their riches, when they have become ours, will support 
us. Be not deceived about that antiquity of blood by which 
they exalt themselves above us ; for all men having had one 
common origin, are all equally ancient, and nature has made 
us all after one fashion. Strip us naked, and we shall all be 
found alike. Dress us in their clothing, and they in ours, 
we shall appear noble, they ignoble — for poverty and riches 
make all the difference. It grieves me much to think that 
some of you are sorry inwardly for what is done, and re- 
solve to abstain from anything more of the kind. Certainly, 
if it be so, you are not the men I took you for ; because 
neither shame nor conscience ought to have any influence 
with you. Conquerors, by what means soever, are never 
considered aught but glorious. We have no business to 
think about conscience ; for when, like us, men have to fear 
hunger, and imprisonment, or death, the fear of hell neither 
can or ou^ht to have any influence upon them. If you only 

130 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B.m. ch. 3. a d. ]37£ 

notice human proceedings, you may observe that all who at- 
tain great power and riches, make use of either force 01 
fraud ; and what they have acquired either by deceit or vio- 
lence, in order to conceal the disgraceful methods of attain- 
ment, they endeavour to sanctify with the false title of honesl 
gains. Those who either from imprudence or want of saga- 
city avoid doing so, are always overwhelmed with servitude 
and poverty ; for faithful servants are always servants, and 
honest men are always poor ; nor do any ever escape from 
servitude but the bold and faithless, or from poverty, but the 
rapacious and fraudulent. God and nature have thrown all 
human fortunes into the midst of mankind ; and they are 
thus attainable rather by rapine than by industry, by wicked 
actions rather than by good. Hence it is that men feed upon 
each other, and those who cannot defend themselves must 
be worried. Therefore we must use force when the op- 
portunity offers ; and fortune cannot present us one more 
favourable than the present, when the citizens are still dis- 
united, the Signory doubtful, and the magistrates terrified ; 
for we may easily conquer them before they can come to any 
settled arrangement. By this means we shall either obtain 
the entire government of the city, or so large a share of it, as 
to be forgiven past errors, and have sufficient authority to 
threaten the city with a renewal of them at some future time. 
I confess this course is bold and dangerous ; but when neces* 
sity pr r sses, audacity becomes prudence, and in great affairs 
the brave never think of dangers. The enterprises that are 
begun with hazard always have a reward at last ; and no one 
ever escaped from embarrassment without some peril. Be- 
sides, it is easy see from all their preparations of prisons, 
racks, and instruments of death, that there is more danger in 
inaction than in endeavouring to secure ourselves ; for in the 
first case the evils are certain, in the latter doubtful. How 
often have I heard you complain of the avarice of your supe- 
riors and the injustice of your magistrates. Now then is the 
time, not only to liberate yourselves from them, but to be- 
come so much superior, that they will have more causes of 
grief and fear from you than you from them. The oppor- 
tunity presented by circumstances passes away, and when 
gone, it will be vain to think it can be recalled. You see 
the preparations of our enemies ; let us anticipate them ; 

B.iii.cH.4. a.d. 1379. EFFECT OF THE SPEECH. 131 

and those who are first in arms will certainly be victors, to 
the ruin of their enemies and their own exaltation ; and thus 
honours will accrue to many of us, and security to all." 
These arguments greatly inflamed minds already disposed 
to mischief, so that they determined to take up arms as soon 
as they had acquired a sufficient number of associates, and 
bound themselves by oath to mutual defence, in case any of 
them were subdued by the civil power, p 

Whilst they were arranging to take"possession of the repub- 
lic, their design became known to the Signory, who, having 
taken a man named Simone, learned from him the particulars 
of the conspiracy, and that the outbreak was to take place on 
the following day. Finding the danger so pressing, they cal- 
led together the Colleagues and those citizens who with the 
Syndics of the arts were endeavouring to effect the union of 
the city. It was then evening, and they advised the Signors 
to assemble the consuls of the trades, who proposed that 
whatever armed force was in Florence should be collected, 
and with the Gonfaloniers of the people and their companies, 
meet under arms in the piazza next morning. It happened 
that whilst Simone was being tortured, a man named Niccolo 
da San Friano was regulating the palace clock, and becoming 
acquainted with what was going on, returned home and 
spread the report of it in his neighbourhood, so that presently 
the piazza of S. Spirito was occupied by above a thousand men. 
This soon became known to the other conspirators, and St. 
Pietro Maggiore and St. Lorenzo, their places of assembly, 
tvere presently full of them, all under arms.) 


Proceedings of the plebeians — The demand they make of the Signory — 
They insist that the Signory leave the palace — The Signory leave the 
palace— Michele di Lando Gonfalonier — Complaints and movement of 
the plebeians against Michele di Lando — Michele di Lando proceed* 
against the plebeians and reduces them to order — Character of Michele 
di Lando. 

At day-break on the 21st of July, there did not appear in 
the piazza above eighty men in arms friendly to the Signorv, 


132 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. m. ch. 4. a.d. 137 

and not one of the Gonfaloniers ; for knowing the whole cit 
to be in a state of insurrection they were afraid to leave the: 
homes. The first body of plebeians that made its appeal 
ance was that which had assembled at San Pietro Maggiore 
out the armed force did not venture to attack them. The 
came the other multitudes, and finding no opposition, the 
loudly demanded their prisoners from the Signory ; and bein 
resolved to have them by force if they were not yielded t 
their threats, they burnt the house of Luigi Guicciardini 
and the Signory, for fear of greater mischief, set them at liberty 
With this addition to their strength they took the Gonfalo] 
of Justice from the bearer, and under the shadow of autho 
rity which it gave them, burnt the houses of many citizens 
selecting those whose owners had publicly or privately ex 
cited their hatred. Many citizens, to avenge themselves fo] 
private injuries, conducted them to the houses of their ene- 
mies ; for it was quite sufficient to ensure its destruction, i; 
a single voice from the mob called out, " To the house oJ 
such a one," or if he who bore the Gonfalon took the road 
towards it. All the documents belonging to the woollen trade 
were burnt, and after the commission of much violence, by 
way of associating it with something laudable, Salvestro de' 
Medici and sixty-three other citizens were made knights, 
amongst whom were Benedetto and Antonio degli Alberti, 
Tommaso Strozzi and others similarly their friends; though 
many received the honour against their wills. It was a 
remarkable peculiarity of the riots, that many who had their 
houses burnt, were on the same day, and by the same party 
made knights ; so close were the kindness and the injury 
together. This circumstance occurred to Luigi Guicciardini, 
Gonfalonier of Justice. 

In this tremendous uproar, the Signory, finding themselves 
abandoned by their armed force, by the leaders of the arts, 
and by the Gonfaloniers, became dismayed ; for none had 
come to their assistance in obedience to orders ; and of the 
sixteen Gonfalons, the ensign of the Golden Lion and of the 
Vaio, under Giovenco della Stufa and Giovanni Cambi alone 
appeared ; and these, not being joined by any other, soon 
withdrew. Of the citizens, on the other hand, some, seeing 
the fury of this unreasonable multitude and the palace aban- 
doned, remained within doors ; others followed the armed 

B. in. en. 4. a.d. 1379. CHANGES DEMANDED. 133 

mob, in the hope that by being amongst them, they might 
more easily protect their own houses or those of thsir friends. 
The power of the plebeians was thus increased and that of 
the Signory weakened. The tumult continued all day, and 
at night the rioters halted near the palace of Stefano, behind 
the church of St. Barnabas. Their number exceeded six 
thousand, and before day-break they obtained by threats the 
ensigns of the trades, with which and the Gonfalon of Justice, 
when morning came, they proceeded to the palace of the 
provost, who refusing to surrender it to them, they took 
possession of it by force. 

The Signory, desirous of a compromise, since they could 
not restrain them by force, appointed four of the Colleagues to 
proceed to the palace of the provost, and endeavour to learn 
what was their intention. They found that the leaders of 
the plebeians, with the Syndics of the trades and some citizens, 
had resolved to signify their wishes to the Signory. They 
therefore returned with four deputies of the plebeians, who 
demanded that the woollen trade should not be allowed to 
have a foreign judge ; that there should be formed three new 
companies of the arts ; namely, one for the woolcombers and 
dyers, one for the barbers, doublet-makers, tailors, and such 
like, and the third for the lowest class of people. They re- 
quired that the three new arts should furnish two Signers ; 
the fourteen minor arts, three ; and that the Signory should 
provide a suitable place of assembly for them. They also 
made it a condition that no member of these companies should 
be expected during two years to pay any debt that amounted 
to less than fifty ducats ; that the bank should take no interest 
on loans already contracted, and that only the principal sum 
should be demanded ; that the condemned and the banished 
should be forgiven, and the admonished should be restored 
to participation in the honors of government. Besides these, 
many other articles were stipulated in favour of their friends, 
and a requisition made that many of their enemies should be 
exiled and admonished. These demands, though grievous 
and dishonourable to the republic, were for fear of further 
violence granted, by the joint deliberation of the Signors, 
Colleagues, and Council of "the people. But in order to give it 
full effect, it was requisite that the Council of the Com- 
mune should also give its consent; and, as they could not 

134 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. m, ch. 4. a.d. 137! 

assemble two councils during the same day, it was necessar 
to defer it till the morrow. However the trades appearec 
content, the plebeians satisfied ; and both promised, that thes< 
laws being confirmed, every disturbance should cease. 

On the following morning, whilst the council of the com- 
mune were in consultation, the impatient and volatile mul- 
titude entered the piazza, under their respective ensigns, witl 
loud and fearful shouts, which struck terror into all the 
Council and Signory ; and Guerrente Marignolli, one of the 
latter, influenced more by fear than anything else, under pre- 
tence of guarding the lower doors, left the chamber and flee 
to his house. He was unable to conceal himself from 
the multitude, who, however, took no notice, except that 
upon seeing him, they insisted that all the Signors should 
quit the palace, and declared that if they refused to comply, 
their houses should be burned and their families put to death. 

The law had now been passed ; the Signors were in their 
own apartments ; the Council had descended from the chamber, 
and without leaving the palace, hopeless of saving the city, 
they remained in the lodges and courts below, overwhelmed 
with grief at seeing such depravity in the multitude, and 
such perversity or fear in those who might either have re- 
strained or suppressed them. The Signory, too, were dis- 
mayed and fearful for the safety of their country, finding 
themselves abandoned by one of their associates, and without 
any aid or even advice ; when, at this moment of uncertainty 
as to what was about to happen, or what would be best to be 
done, Tommaso Strozzi and Benedetto Alberti, either from 
motives of ambition (being desirous of remaining masters of 
the palace), or because they thought it the most advisable 
step, persuaded them to give way to the popular impulse, 
and withdraw privately to their own homes. This advice, 
given by those who had been the leaders of the tumult, 
although the others yielded, filled Alamanno Acciajuoli and 
Niccolo del Bene, two of the Signors, with anger ; and, re- 
assuming a little vigour, they said, that if the others would 
withdraw they could not help it, but they would remain as 
long as they continued in office, if they did not in the mean 
time lose their lives. These dissensions redoubled the fears 
of the Signory and the rage of the people, so that the Gon- 
falonier, disposed rather to conclude his magistracy in dis- 

D : on. 4. ad. 1379. ItlCHHLE DT I.JLWDO. f 3i1 

honour than in danger, recommended himself to the care of 
Tommaso Strozzi, who withdrew him from the palace and 
conducted him to his house. The other Signors were, one 
after another, conveyed in the same manner, so that Alamanno 
and Niccolo, not to appear more valiant than wise, seeing 
themselves left alone, also retired, and the palace fell into the 
hands of the plebeians and the Eight Commissioners of 
War, who had not yet laid down their authority. 

When the plebeians entered the palace, the standard of the 
Gonfalonier of Justice was in the hands of Michele de Lando, 
a woolcomber. This man, barefoot, with scarcely anything 
upon him, and the rabble at his heels, ascended the staircase, 
and, having entered the audience chamber of the Signory, he 
stopped, and turning to the multitude said, " You see this 
palace is now yours, and the city is in your power ; what do 
you think ought to be done ?" To which they replied, they 
would have him for their Gonfalonier and lord ; and that he 
should govern them and the city as he thought best. Michael 
accepted the command ; and, as he was a cool and sagacious 
man, more favoured by nature than by fortune, he resolved 
to compose the tumult, and restore peace to the city. To 
occupy the minds of the people, and give himself time to 
make some arrangement, he ordered that one Nuto, who had 
been appointed bargello, or sheriff, by Lapo da Castiglionchio, 
should be sought. The greater part of his followers went 
to execute this commission ; and, to commence with justice 
the government he had acquired by favour, he commanded 
that no one should either burn or steal anything ; while, to 
strike terror into all, he caused a gallows to be erected in the 
court of the palace. He began the reform of government by 
deposing the Syndics of the trades, and appointing new ones ; 
he deprived the Signory and the Colleagues of their magistracy, 
and burned the balloting purses containing the names of those 
eligible to office under the former government. 

In the meantime, Ser Nuto, being brought by the mob into 
the court, was suspended from the gallows by one foot ; and 
those around having torn him to pieces, in little more than a 
moment nothing remained of him but the foot by which he 
had been tied. 

The Eight Commissioners of War, on the other hand, 
thinking themselves, after the departure of the Signors, left 

136 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. m. ch. 4. a.d. 1379. 

sole masters of the city, had already formed a new Signory ; 
but Michael, on learning this, sent them an order to quit the 
palace immediately; for he wished to show that he could 
govern Florence without their assistance. He then assembled 
the Syndics of the trades, and created as a Signory, four from 
the lowest plebeians ; two from the major, and two from the 
minor trades. Besides this, he made a new selection of 
names for the balloting purses, and divided the state into 
three parts ; one composed of the new trades, another of the 
minor, and the third of the major trades. He gave to Sal- 
vestro de' Medici the revenue of the shops upon the Old 
Bridge ; for himself he took the provostry of Empoli, and 
conferred benefits upon many other citizens, friends of the 
plebeians ; not so much for the purpose of rewarding their 
labours, as that they might 'serve to screen him from envy. 

It seemed to the plebeians that Michael, in his reformation 
of the state, had too much favoured the higher ranks of the 
people, and that themselves had not a sufficient share in 
the government to enable them to preserve it ; and hence, 
prompted by their usual audacity, they again took arms, and 
coming tumultuously into the court of the palace, each body 
under their particular ensigns, insisted that the Signory 
should immediately descend and consider new means for ad- 
vancing their well-being and security. Michael, observing 
their arrogance, was unwilling to provoke them, but without 
further yielding to their request, blamed the manner in which 
it was made, advised them to lay down their arms, and pro- 
mised that then would be conceded to them, what otherwise, 
for the dignity of the state, must of necessity be withheld. 
The multitude, enraged at this reply, withdrew to Santa 
Maria Novella, where they appointed eight leaders for their 
party, with officers, and other regulations to ensure influence 
and respect ; so that the city possessed two governments, 
and was under the direction of two distinct powers. These 
new leaders determined that Eight, elected from their trades, 
should constantly reside in the palace with the Signory, and 
that whatever the Signory should determine must be con- 
firmed by them before it became law. They took from 
Salvestro de' Medici and Michael di Lando the whole of 
what their former decrees had granted them, and distributed 
to many of their party offices and emoluments to enable 

B in. ch.4. a.d. 1379. MICHELE'S CHARACTER. 137 

them to support their dignity. These resolutions being 
passed, to render them valid they sent two of their body to 
the Signory, to insist on their being confirmed by the Council, 
with an inl imation, that if not granted they would be vindi- 
cated by force. This deputation, with amazing audacity and 
surpassing presumption, explained their commission to the 
Signory, upbraided the Gonfalonier with the dignity they had 
conferred upon him, the honour they had done him, and with 
the ingratitude and want of respect he had shown towards 
them. Coming to threats towards the end of their discourse, 
Michael could not endure their arrogance, and sensible rather 
of the dignity of the office he held than of the meanness of 
his origin, determined by extraordinary means to punish 
such extraordinary insolence, and drawing the sword with 
which he was girt, seriously wounded, and caused them to 
be seized and imprisoned. 

When the fact became known, the multitude were filled 
with rage, and thinking that "by their arms they might en- 
sure what without them they had failed to effect, they seized 
their weapons and with the utmost fury resolved to force the 
Signory to consent to their wishes. Michael, suspecting what 
would happen, determined to be prepared, for he knew his 
credit rather required him to be first in the attack than to 
wait the approach of the enemy, or, like his predecessors, dis- 
honour both the palace and himself by flight. He therefore 
drew together a good number of citizens (for many began to 
see their error), mounted on horseback, and followed by crowds 
of armed men, proceeded to Santa Maria Novella, to encoun- 
ter his adversaries. The plebeians, who as before observed 
were influenced by a similar desire, had set out about the 
same time as Michael, and it happened that as each took a 
different route, they did not meet in their way, and Michael, 
upon his return, found the piazza in their possession. The 
contest was now for the palace, and joining in the fight, he 
soon vanquished them, drove part of them out of the city, 
and compelled the rest to throw down their arms and escape 
or conceal themselves, as well as they could. Having thus 
gained the victory, the tumults were composed, solely by the 
talents of the Gonfalonier, who in courage, prudence, and 
generosity surpassed every other citizen of his time, and 
deserves to be enumerated amongst the glorious few who have 

138 HISTOET OF FLORENCE. B. in. ch. 5. a.d. 1371 

greatly benefited their country ; for had he possessed either 
malice or ambition, the republic would have been completely 
ruined, and the city must have fallen under greater tyranny 
than that of the duke of Athens. But his goodness never 
allowed a thought to enter his mind opposed to the universal 
welfare : his prudence enabled him to conduct affairs in such 
a manner, that a great majority of his own faction reposed 
the most entire confidence in him ; and he kept the rest in 
awe by the influence of his authority. These qualities sub- 
dued the plebeians, and opened the eyes of the superior arti- 
ficers, who considered how great must be the folly of those, 
who having overcome the pride of the nobility, could endure 
to submit to the nauseous rule of the rabble. 


New regulations for the elections of the Signory — Confusion in the City — 
Piero degli Albizzi and other citizens condemned to death — The Floren- 
tines alarmed by the approach of Charles of Durazzo — The measures 
adopted in consequence thereof — Insolent Conduct of Giorgio Scali — 
Benedetto Alberti — Giorgio Scali beheaded. 

By the time Michael di Lando had subdued the plebeians, 
the new Signory was drawn, and amongst those who com- 
posed it, were two persons of such base and mean condition, 
that the desire increased in the minds of the people to 
be freed from the ignominy into which they had fallen ; 
and when, upon the first of September, the new Signory 
entered office and the retiring members were still in the 
palace, the piazza being full of armed men, a tumultuous 
cry arose from the midst of them, that none of the lowest 
of the people should hold office amongst the Signory. 
The obnoxious two were withdrawn accordingly. The 
name of one was II Tira, of the other Baroccio, and in 
their stead were elected Giorgio Scali and Francesco di 
Michele. The company of the lowest trade was also dissolved, 
and its members deprived of office, except Michael di Lando, 
Lorenzo di Puccio and a few others of better quality. The 
honours of government were divided into two parts, one of 
which was assigned to the superior trades, the other to the 
inferior ; except that the latter were to furnish five Signors, 

ch. 5. a.d. 1381. GIANOZZO DA SALERNO. 139 

and the former only four. The Gonfalonier was to be chosen 
alternately from each. 

The government, thus composed, restored peace to the city 
for the time ; but though the republic was rescued from the 
power of the lowest plebeians, the inferior trades were still 
more influential than the nobles of the people, who, however, 
were obliged to submit for the gratification of the trades, of 
whose favour they wished to deprive the plebeians. The 
-tablishment was supported by all who wished the con- 
tinued subjugation of those who, under the name of the Guel- 
phic party, had practised such excessive violence against 
the citizens. And as amongst others, thus disposed, were 
Giorgio Scali, Benedetto Alberti, Salvestro de' Medici, and 
Tommaso Strozzi, these four almost became princes of the 
city. This state of the public mind strengthened the divi- 
sions already commenced between the nobles of the people, 
and the minor artificers, by the ambition of the Ricci and the 
Albizzi ; from which, as at different times very serious effects 
arose, and as they will hereafter be frequently mentioned, we 
shall call the former the popular party, the latter the plebeian. 
This condition of things continued three years, during which 
many were exiled and put to death ; for the government 
lived in constant apprehension, knowing that both within and 
without the city many were dissatisfied with them. Those 
within, either attempted or were suspected of attempting every 
day some new project against them; and those without, being 
under no restraint, were continually, by means of some 
prince or republic, spreading reports tending to increase the 

Gianozzo da Salerno was at this time in Bologna. He 
held a command under Charles of Durazzo, a descendant of 
the kings of Naples, who, designing to undertake the con- 
quest of the dominions of Queen Giovanha, retained his 
captain in that city, with the concurrence of Pope Urban, 
who was at enmity with the queen. Many Florentine 
emigrants were also at Bologna, in close correspondence 
with him and Charles. This caused the rulers in Florence 
to live in continual alarm, and induced them to lend a willing 
ear to any calumnies against the suspected. Whilst in this 
disturbed state of feeling, it was disclosed to the government 
that Gianozzo da Salerno was about to march to Florence 

140 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. m. ch. 5. a.d. 1381 

with the emigrants, and that great numbers of those withir 
were to rise in arms, and deliver the city to him. Upon this 
information many were accused, the principal of whom were 
Piero degli Albizzi and Carlo Strozzi ; and after these, 
Cipriano Mangione, Jacopo Sacchetti, Donato Barbadori, 
Filippo Strozzi, and Giovanni Anselmi, the whole of whom, 
except Carlo Strozzi, who fled, were made prisoners ; and 
the Signory, to prevent any one from taking arms in their 
favour, appointed Tommaso Strozzi and Benedetto Alberti, 
with a strong armed force, to guard the city. The arrested 
citizens were examined, and although nothing was elicited 
against them sufficient to induce the Capitano to find them 
guilty, their enemies excited the minds of the populace to 
such a degree of outrageous and overwhelming fury against 
them, that they were condemned to death, as it were, by 
force. Nor was the greatness of his family, or his former 
reputation, of any service to Piero degli Albizzi, who had 
once been, of all the citizens, the man most feared and 
honoured. Some one, either as a friend to render him wise 
in his prosperity, or an enemy to threaten h m with the 
fickleness of fortune, had upon the occasion of his making a 
feast for many citizens, sent him a silver bowl full of sweet- 
meats, amongst which a large nail was found, and being 
seen by many present, was taken for a hint to him to fix the 
wheel of Fortune, which, having conveyed him to the top, 
must, if the rotation continued, also bring him to the bottom. 
This interpretation was verified, first by his ruin, and after- 
wards by his death. 

After this execution the city was full of consternation, 
for both victors and vanquished were alike in fear ; but the 
worst effects arose from the apprehensions of those possessing 
the management of affairs ; for every accident, however trivial, 
caused them to commit fresh outrages, either by condemna- 
tions, admonitions, or banishment of citizens ; to which must 
be added, as scarcely less pernicious, the frequent new laws 
and regulations which were made for defence of the govern- 
ment, all of which were put in execution to the injury of 
those opposed to their faction. They appointed forty-six 
persons, who, with the Signory, were to purge the republic of 
all suspected by the government. They admonished thirty- 
nine citizens, ennobled many of the people, and degraded 

1). rii. ch. 5. a d.1381. JOHN IIAWKWOOD. 141 

v nobles to the popular rank. To strengthen them- 
3 against external foes, they took into their pay John 
kwood, an Englishman of great military reputation, who 
had long served the pope and others in Italy. Their fears 
from without were increased by a report that several bodies 
of men were being assembled by Charles of Durazzo for the 
[iiest of Naples, and many Florentine emigrants were 
said to have joined him. Against these dangers, in addition 
to the forces which had been raised, large sums of • money 
were provided ; and Charles, having arrived at Arezzo, ob- 
tained from the Florentines 40,000 ducats, and promised he 
would not molest them. His enterprise was immediately 
prosecuted, and having occupied the kingdom of Naples, he 
8ent Queen Giovanna a prisoner into Hungary. This victory 
renewed the fears of those who managed the affairs of Flo- 
rence, for they could not persuade themselves that their 
money would have a greater influence on the king's mind 
than the friendship which his house had long retained for 
the Guelphs, whom they so grievously oppressed. 

This suspicion increasing, multiplied oppressions ; which 
again, instead of diminishing the suspicion, augmented it ; so 
that most men lived in the utmost discontent. To this the 
insolence of Giorgio Scali and Tommaso Strozzi (who by 
their popular influence overawed the magistrates) also con- 
tributed, for the rulers were apprehensive that by the power 
these men possessed with the plebeians, they could set them 
at defiance ; and hence it is evident that not only to good 
men, but even to the seditious, this government appeared 
tyrannical and violent. To put a period to the outrageous 
conduct of Giorgio, it happened that a servant of his accused 
Giovanni di Cambio of practices against the state, but the 
Capitano declared him innocent. Upon this, the judge de- 
termined to punish the accuser with the same penalties that 
the accused would have incurred had he been guilty, but 
Giorgio Scali, unable to save him either by his authority or 
entreaties, obtained the assistance of Tommaso Strozzi, and 
with a multitude of armed men, set the informer at liberty 
and plundered the palace of the Capitano, who was obliged 
to save himself by flight. This act excited such great and 
universal animosity against him, that his enemies began to 
hope they would be able to effect his ruin, and also to rescue 

142 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. in. ch. 5. A.D.138L 

the city from the power of the plebeians, who for three years 
had held her under their arrogant control. 

To the realization of this design the Capitano greatly con- 
tributed, for the tumult having subsided, he presented him- 
self before the Signors, and said " He had cheerfully under- 
taken the office to which they had appointed him, for he 
thought he should serve upright men who would take arms 
for the defence of justice, and not impede its progress. But 
now that he had seen and had experience of the proceedings 
of the city, and the manner in which affairs were conducted, 
that dignity which he had voluntarily assumed with the 
hope of acquiring honour and emolument, he now more 
willingly resigned, to escape from the losses and danger to 
which he found himself exposed." The complaint of the 
Capitano was heard with the utmost attention by the Sig- 
nory, who promising to remunerate him for the injury he 
had suffered and provide for his future security, he was 
satisfied. Some of them then obtained an interview with 
certain citizens who were thought to be lovers of the com- 
mon good, and least suspected by the state ; and in con- 
junction with these, it was concluded that the present was a 
favourable opportunity for rescuing the city from Giorgio 
and the plebeians, the last outrage he had committed having 
completely alienated the great body of the people from him. 
They judged it best to profit by the occasion before the ex- 
citement had abated, for they knew that the favour of the 
mob is often gained or lost by the most trifling circumstance ; 
and more certainly to ensure success, they determined, if 
possible, to obtain the concurrence of Benedetto Alberti, for 
without it they considered their enterprise to be dangerous. 

Benedetto was one of the richest citizens, a man of un- 
assuming manners, an ardent lover of the liberties of his 
country, and one to whom tyrannical measures were in the 
highest degree offensive ; so that he was easily induced to 
concur in their views and consent to Giorgio"s ruin. His 
enmity against the nobles of the people and the Guelphs, and 
his friendship for the plebeians, were caused by the insolence 
and tyrannical proceedings of the former; but rinding that the 
plebeians had soon become quite as insolent, he quickly 
separated himself from them ; and the injuries committed by 
them against the citizens were done wholly without his con- 

en. 0. a.d. 1381. GIORGIO SCALI BEHEADED. 143 

sent. So that the same motives which made him join the 
plebeians induced him to leave them. 

Having gained Benedetto and the leaders of the trades 
to their side, they provided themselves with arms and 
made Giorgio prisoner. Tommaso fled. The next day 
Giorgio was beheaded ; which struck so great a terror into 
his party, that none ventured to express the slightest dis- 
approbation, but each seemed anxious to be foremost in 
defence of the measure. On being led to execution, in the pre- 
sence of that people who only a short time before had idolized 
him, Giorgio complained of his hard fortune, and the malig- 
nity of those citizens who, having done him an undeserved 
injury, had compelled him to honour and support a 
mob, possessing neither faith nor gratitude. Observing 
Benedetto Alberti amongst those who had armed themselves 
for the preservation of order, he said, " Do you, too, consent, 
Benedetto, that this injury shall be done to me? Were I in 
your place and you in mine, I would take care that no one 
should injure you. I tell you, however, this day is the end 
of my troubles and the beginning of yours." He then 
blamed himself for having confided too much in a people 
who may be excited and inflamed by every word, motion, 
and breath of suspicion. With these complaints he died in 
the midst of his armed enemies, delighted at his fall. Some 
of his most intimate associates were also put to death, and 
their bodies dragged about by the mob. 


Confusion and riots in the city — Reform of government in opposition to 
the plebeians — Injuries done to those who favoured the plebeians — 
Michael di Lando banished — Benedetto Alberti hated by the Si>mory — 
Fears excited by the coming of Louis of Anjou — The Florentines pur- 
chase Arezzo — Benedetto Alberti becomes suspected and is banished — 
His discourse upon leaving the city — Other citizens banished and ad- 
monished — War with Giovanni Galeazzo, duke of Milan. 

The death of Giorgio caused very great excitement ; many 
took arms at the execution in favour of the Signory and the 
Gapitano ; and many others, either for ambition or as a means 

144 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. in. ch. 6. a. d. 13S2 

for their own safety, did the same. The city was full of con- 
flicting parties, who each had a particular end in view, and 
wished to carry it into effect before they disarmed. The 
ancient nobility, called the Great, could not bear to be de- 
prived of public honours ; for the recovery of which they 
used their utmost exertions, and earnestly desired that autho- 
rity might be restored to the Capitani di Parte. The nobles 
of the people and the major trades were discontented at the 
share the minor trades and lowest of the people possessed in 
the government ; whilst the minor trades were desirous of 
increasing their influence, and the lowest people were appre- 
hensive of losing the companies of their trades and the au- 
thority which these conferred. 

Such opposing views occasioned Florence, during a year, 
to be disturbed by many riots. Sometimes the nobles of the 
people took arms ; sometimes the major and sometimes the 
minor trades and the lowest of the people ; and it often 
happened that, though in different parts, all were at once in 
insurrection. Hence many conflicts took place between the 
different parties or with the forces of the palace ; for the 
Signory sometimes yielding, and at other times resisting, 
adopted such remedies as they could for these numerous 
evils. At length, after two assemblies of the people, and 
many Balias appointed for the reformation of the city ; after 
much toil, labour, and imminent danger, a government was 
appointed, by which all who had been banished since Sal- 
vestro de' Medici was Gonfalonier were restored. They who 
had acquired distinctions or emoluments by the Balia of 
1378 were deprived of them. The honours of government 
were restored to the Guelphic party ; the two new Com- 
panies of the Trades were dissolved, and all who had been 
subject to them assigned to their former companies. The 
minor trades were not allowed to elect the Gonfalonier of 
Justice, their share of honours was reduced from a half to a 
third ; and those of the highest rank were withdrawn from 
them altogether. Thus the nobles of. the people and the 
Guelphs repossessed themselves of the government, which 
was lost by the plebeians after it had been in their possession 
from 1378 to 1381, when these changes took place. 

The new establishment was not less injurious to the 
citizens, or less troublesome at its commencement than that 

cm. 6. a.d. 1382. LOUIS OF ANJOU. 145 

of the plebeians had been ; for many of the nobles of the 
. who had distinguished themselves as defenders of the 
plebeians were banished, with a great number of the leaders 
of the latter, amongst whom was Michele di Lando ; nor 
could all the benefits conferred upon the city by his authority, 
when in danger from the lawless mob, save him from the 
rabid fury of the party that was now in power. His good 
offices evidently excited little gratitude in his countrymen. 
The neglect of their benefactors is an error into which 
princes and republics frequently fall ; and hence mankind, 
alarmed by such examples, as soon as they begin to perceive 
the ingratitude of their rulers, set themselves against them. 

As these banishments and executions had always been 
offensive to Benedetto Alberti, they continued to disgust him, 
;and he censured them both publicly and privately. The 
leaders of the government began to fear him, for they con- 
sidered him one of the most earnest friends of the plebeians, 
•and thought he had not consented to the death of Giorgio 
Scali from disapprobation of his proceedings, but that he 
might be left himself without a rival in the government. 
His discourse and his conduct alike served to increase their 
suspicions, so that all the ruling party had their eyes upon 
him, and eagerly sought an opportunity of crushing him. 

During this state of things, external affairs were not of 
serious importance, for some which ensued were productive 
of apprehension rather than of injury. At this time Louis of 
Anjou came into Italy, to recover the kingdom of Naples for 
Queen Giovanna, and drive out Charles of Durazzo. His 
coming terrified the Florentines; for Charles, according to 
the custom of old friends, demanded their assistance, and 
Louis, like those who seek new alliances, required their 
neutrality. The Florentines, that they might seem to 
comply with the request of Louis, and at the same time assist 
Charles, discharged from their service Sir John Hawk wood, 
and transferred him to that of Pope Urban, who was friendly 
to Charles ; but this deceit was at once detected, and Louis 
considered himself greatly injured by the Florentines. Whilst 
the war was carried on between Louis and Charles in Puglia, 
new forces were sent from France in aid of Louis, and on 
arriving in Tuscany, were by the emigrants of Arezzo con- 
ducted to that city, and took it from those who held posses- 


146 HISTOKT t~»* I.LORENCE. B. m. ch. 6. AD. ill 

sion for Charles. And when they were about to change th 
government of Florence, as they had already done that c 
Arezzo, Louis died, and the order of things in Puglia and i . 
Tuscany was changed accordingly ; for Charles secured th 
kingdom, which had been all but lost, and the Florentine* 
who were apprehensive for their own city, purchased Arezz 
from those who held it for Louis. Charles, having securer 
Puglia, went to take possession of Hungary, to which he wa 
heir, leaving, with his wife, his children Ladislaus ant 
Giovanna, who were yet infants. He took possession o 
Hungary, but was soon after slain there. 

As great rejoicings were made in Florence on account o 
this acquisition as ever took place in any city for a rea 
victory, which served to exhibit the public and private wealtl 
of the people, many families endeavouring to vie with tht 
state itself in displays of magnificence. The Alberti sur 
passed all others ; the tournaments and exhibitions madt 
oy them were rather suitable for a sovereign prince than foi 
any private individuals. These things increased the envj 
with which the family was regarded, and being joined with 
suspicions which the state entertained of Benedetto, were 
the causes of his ruin. The rulers could not endure him, 
for it appeared as if, at any moment, something might 
occur, which, with the favour of his friends, would enable 
him to recover his authority, and drive them out of the city. 
Whilst in this state of suspicion and jealousy, it happened 
that while he was Gonfalonier of the Companies, his son-in- 
law, Filippo Magalotti, was drawn Gonfalonier of Justice; 
and this circumstance increased the fears of the government, 
for they thought it would strengthen Benedetto's influence, 
and place the state in the greater peril. Anxious to provide 
a remedy, without creating much disturbance, they induced 
Bese Magalotti, his relative and enemy, to signify to the 
Signory that Filippo, not having attained the age required 
for the exercise of that office, neither could nor ought to hold 

The question was examined by the Signors, and part of 
them out of hatred, others in order to avoid disunion amongst 
themselves, declared Filippo ineligible to the dignity, and in 
his stead was drawn Bardo Mancini, who was quite opposed 
to the plebeian interests, and an inveterate foe of Benedetto. 

h. 6. a.d.1383. BENEDETTO BANISHED. 147 

This man, having entered upon the duties of his office, created 
a Balia for the reformation of the state, which banished 
Benedetto Alberti and admonished all the rest of his family 
except Antonio. Before his departure, Benedetto called 
them together, and observing their melancholy demeanour, 
said, " You see, my fathers, and you the elders of our 
house, how Fortune has ruined me and threatened you. 
I am not surprised at this, neither ought you to be so, for 
it always happens thus to those who amongst a multitude 
of the wicked, wish to act rightly, and endeavour to sus- 
tain, what the many seek to destroy. The love of my 
country made me take part with Salvestro de' Medici and 
afterwards separated me from Giorgio Scali. The same 
cause compelled me to detest those who now govern, who 
having none to punish them, will allow no one to reprove their 
misdeeds. I am content that my banishment should deliver 
them from the fears they entertain, not of me only, but of 
all who they think perceives or is acquainted with their 
tyrannical and wicked proceedings ; and they have aimed their 
first blow at me, in order the more easily to oppress you. I 
do not grieve on my own account ; for those honours which 
my country bestowed upon me whilst free, she cannot in her 
slavery take from me ; and the recollection of my past life 
will always give me greater pleasure than the pain imparted 
by the sorrows of exile. I deeply regret that my country is 
left a prey to the greediness and pride of the few who keep 
her in subjection. I grieve for you ; for I fear that the evils 
which this day cease to affect me, and commence with you, 
will pursue you with even greater malevolence than they 
have me. Comfort, then, each other; resolve to bear up 
against every misfortune, and conduct yourselves in such a 
manner, that when disasters befall you (and there will be 
many), every one may know they have come upon you 
undeservedly." Not to give a worse impression of his 
virtue abroad than he had done at home, he made a journey 
to the sepulchre of Christ, and whilst upon his return, died 
at Rhodes. His remains were brought to Florence, and in- 
terred with all possible honours, by those who had persecuted 
him, when alive, with every species of calumny and injustice. 
The family of the Alberti was not the only injured part} 
during these troubles of the city ; for many others were baii- 

L 2 

148 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. in. ch. 6. a.d. 138( 

ished and admonished. Of the former were Piero Benini 
Matteo Alderotti, Giovanni and Francesco del Bene, Gio 
vanni Benci, Andrea Adimari, and with them many member: 
of the minor trades. Of the admonished were the Covini 
Benini, Rinucci, Formiconi, Corbizzi, Manelli, and Alderotti 
It was customary to create the Balia for a limited time 
and when the citizens elected had effected the purpose o: 
their appointment, they resigned the office from motives o: 
good feeling and decency, although the time allowed mighi 
not have expired. In conformity with this laudable practice, 
the Balia of that period, supposing they had accomplished all 
that was expected of them, wished to retire ; but when the 
multitude were acquainted with their intention, they rar 
armed to the palace, and insisted, that before resigning their 
power, many other persons should be banished and admon- 
ished. This greatly displeased the Signors ; but without 
disclosing the extent of their displeasure, they contrived to 
amuse the multitude with promises, till they had assembled 
a sufficient body of armed men, and then took such mea- 
sures, that fear induced the people to lay aside the weapons 
which madness had led them to take up. Nevertheless, in 
some degree to gratify the fury of the mob, and to reduce the 
authority of the plebeian trades, it was provided, that as the 
latter had previously possessed a third of the honours, they 
should in future only have a fourth. That there might 
always be two of the Signors particularly devoted to the 
government, they gave authority to the Gonfalonier of Justice, 
and four others, to form a ballot-purse of select citizens, 
from which, in every Signory, two should be drawn. 

This government, from its establishment in 1381, till the 
alterations now made, had continued six years ; and the in- 
ternal peace of the city remained undisturbed until 1393. 
During this time, Giovanni Galeazzo Visconti, usually called 
the Count of Virtu, imprisoned his uncle Bernabo, and thus 
became sovereign of the whole of Lombardy. As he had 
become duke of Milan by fraud, he designed to make himself 
king of Italy by force. In 1391 he commenced a spirited 
attack upon the Florentines ; but such various changes oc- 
curred in the course of the war, that he was frequently 
in greater danger than the Florentines themselves, who, 
though they made a brave and admirable defence, for a republic, 

9. m. ch. 7. a.d. 1393. MASO DEGLI ALBIZZI. 149 

j must have been ruined, if he had survived. As it was, the 
result was attended with infinitely less evil than their fears of 
powerful an enemy had led them to apprehend ; for the 
duke having taken Bologna, Pisa, Perugia, and Sienna, and 
prepared a diadem with which to be crowned king of Italy 
at Florence, died before he had tasted the fruit of his vic- 
tories, or the Florentines began to feel the effect of their 


llaso degli Albizzi — His violence excites the anger of the people— They 
have recourse to Veri de' Medici — The modesty of Veri — He refuses to 
assume the dignity of prince, and appeases the people — Discourse of 
Veri to the Signory — The banished Florentines endeavour to return — 
They secretly enter the city and raise a tumult — Some of them slain, 
others taken in the church of St. Reparata — A conspiracy of exiles sup- 
ported by the duke of Milan — The conspiracy discovered and the 
parties punished — Various enterprises of the Florentines — Taking ot 
Pisa — War with the king of Naples — Acquisition of Cortona. 

During the war with the duke of Milan, the office of Gon- 
falonier of Justice fell to Maso degli Albizzi, who by the 
death of Piero in 1379, had become the inveterate enemy 
of the Alberti; and as party feeling is incapable either 
of repose or abatement, he determined, notwithstanding 
Benedetto had died in exile, that before the expiration of his 
magistracy, he would revenge himself on the remainder of 
that family. He seized the opportunity afforded by a person, 
who on being examined respecting correspondence main- 
tained with the rebels, accused Andrea and Alberto degli 
Alberti of such practices. They were immediately arrested, 
which so greatly excited the people, that the Signory, 
having provided themselves with an armed force, called the 
citizens to a general assembly or parliament, and appointed 
a Balia, by whose authority many were banished, and a 
new ballot for the offices of government was made. Among 
the banished were nearly all the Alberti ; many members of 
the trades were admonished, and some put to death. Stung 
by these numerous injuries, the trades and the lowest of the 

150 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B.m. ch.7. a.d. Vm. 

people rose in arms, considering themselves despoiled botli of 
honour and life. One body of them assembled in the piazza ; 
another ran to the house of Veri de' Medici, who, after the 
death of Salvestro, was head of the family. The Signory, 
in order to appease those who came to the piazza or court of 
the palace, gave them for leaders, with the ensigns of the 
Guelphs and of the people in their hands, Rinaldo Gianfig- 
liazzi and Donato Acciajuoli, both men of the popular class, 
and more attached to the interests of the plebeians than any 
other. Those who went to the house of Veri de' Medici, 
begged that he would be pleased to undertake the govern- 
ment, and free them from the tyranny of those citizens 
who were destroying the peace and safety of the com- 

It is agreed by all who have written concerning the 
events of this period, that if Veri had had more ambition 
than integrity he might without any impediment have be- 
come prince of the city ; for the unfeeling treatment which, 
whether right or wrong, had been inflicted upon the trades 
and their friends, had so excited the minds of men to venge- 
ance, that all they required was some one to be their leader. 
Nor were there wanting those who could inform him of the 
state of public feeling; for Antonio de' Medici with whom he 
had for some time been upon terms of most intimate friend- 
ship, endeavoured to persuade him to undertake the govern- 
ment of the republic. To this Veri replied : " Thy menaces 
when thou wert my enemy, never alarmed me ; nor shall thy 
counsel, now when thou art my friend, do me any harm." 
Then, turning towards the multitude, he bade them be of 
good cheer ; for he would be their defender, if they Avould 
allow themselves to be advised by him. He then went, 
accompanied by a great number of citizens, to the piazza, and 
proceeded directly to the audience chamber of the Signory, 
whom he addressed to this effect : That he could not regret 
having lived so as to gain the love of the Florentines ; but 
he was sorry they had formed an opinion of him which his 
past life had not warranted ; for never having done anything 
that could be construed as either factious or ambitious, he 
could not imagine how it had happened, that they should 
think him willing to stir up strife as a discontented person, or 
usurp the government of his country like an ambitious one. 

..a.d. 1384. VERI DE MEDICI. 151 

I therefore begged that the infatuation of the multitude 
at not injure him in their estimation ; for, to the utmost 
lis power, their authority should be restored. He then 
mmended them to use good fortune with moderation ; for 
ould be much better to enjoy an imperfect victory with 
ty to the city, than a complete one with her ruin. The 
uory applauded Veriis conduct; begged he would en- 
Lvour to prevent recourse to arms, and promised that what 
he and the other citizens might deem most advisable should 
be done. Veri then returned to the piazza, where the people 
who had followed him were joined by those led by Donato 
and Rinaldo, and informed the united companies that he had 
found the Signory most kindly disposed towards them ; that 
many things had been taken into consideration, which the 
shortness of the time, and the absence of the magistrates, 
rendered incapable of being finished. He therefore begged 
they would lay down their arms and obey the Signory ; 
assuring them that humility would prevail rather than pride, 
entreaties rather than threats ; and if they would take his 
advice, their privileges and security would remain unimpaired. 
He thus induced them to return peaceably to their homes. 

The disturbance having subsided, the Signory armed the 
piazza, enrolled 2,000 of the most trusty citizens, who were di- 
vided equally by Gonfalons, and ordered to be in readiness to 
give their assistance whenever required ; and they forbade the 
use of arms to all who were not thus enrolled. Having adopted 
these precautionary measures, they banished and put to 
death many of those members of the trades who had shown 
the greatest audacity in the late riots ; and to invest the 
office of Gonfalonier of Justice with more authoritative 
jesty, they ordered that no one should be eligible to it, 
under ibrty-five years of age. Many other provisions for the 
defence of the state were made, which apppeared intolerable 
to tho*e against whom they were directed, and were odious 
even to the friends of the Signory themselves, for they could 
not believe a government to be either good or secure, which 
needed so much violence for its defence, a violence exces- 
sively offensive, not only to those of the Alberti who remained 
in the city, and to the Medici, .who felt themselves injured by 
these proceedings, but also to many others. The first who 
attempted resistance was Donato, son of Jacopo Acciajuoli, 

152 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. m. ch. 7. a.d. 139c 

who though of great authority, and the superior rather thai 
the equal of Maso degli Albizzi, (who on account of th< 
events which took place whilst he was Gonfalonier of Justice 
was almost at the head of the republic), could not enjoy re- 
pose amid such general discontent, or, like many others 
convert social evils to his own private advantage, and there- 
fore resolved to attempt the restoration of the exiles to theii 
country, or at least their offices to the admonished. He wen! 
from one to another, disseminating his views, showing that 
the people would not be satisfied, or the ferment of parties 
subside, without the changes he proposed ; and declared that 
if he were in the Signory, he would soon carry them into 
effect. In human affairs, delay causes tedium, and haste 
danger. To avoid what was tedious, Donato Acciajuoli re- 
solved to attempt what involved danger. Michele Accia- 
juoli his relative, and Niccolo Ricoveri his friend, were of the 
Signory. This seemed to Donato a conjuncture of circum- 
stances too favourable to be lost, and he requested they would 
propose a law to the councils, which would include the resto- 
ration of the citizens. They, at his entreaty, spoke about the 
matter to their associates, who replied, that it was improper to 
attempt any innovation in which the advantage was doubtful 
and the danger certain. Upon this, Donato, having in vain 
tried all other means he could think of, excited with anger, 
gave them to understand that since they would not allow the 
city to be governed with peaceful measures, he would try 
what could be done with arms. These words gave so great 
offence, that being communicated to the heads of the govern- 
ment, Donato was summoned, and having appeared, the 
truth was proved by those to whom he had entrusted the 
message, and he was banished to Barletta. Alamanno and 
Antonio de' Medici were also banished, and all those of that 
family, who were descended from Alamanno, with many 
who, although of the inferior artificers, possessed influence 
with the plebeians. These events took place two years after 
the reform of government effected by Maso degli Albizzi. 

At this time many discontented citizens were at home, and 
others banished in the adjoining states. Of the latter there 
lived at Bologna Picchio Cavicciulli, Tommaso de' Ricci. 
Antonio de' Medici, Benedetto degli Spini, Antonio Girolami, 
Cristofano di Carlone, and two others of the lowest order, all 

B. in. ch. 7. A. D. 1397. THE BANISHED RETURN. 153 

bold young men, and resolved upon returning to their country 
at any hazard. These were secretly told by Piggiello and 
Baroccio Cavicciulli, who, being admonished, lived in 
Florence, that if they came to the city they should be con- 
cealed in their house ; from which they might afterwards 
issue, slay Maso degli Albizzi, and call the people to 
arms, who, full of discontent, would willingly arise, parti- 
cularly as they would be supported by the Bicci, Adimari, 
Medici, Manelli, and many other families. Excited with 
these hopes, on the 4th of August, 1397, they came to 
Florence, and having entered unobserved according to their 
arrangement, they sent one of their party to watch Maso, 
designing with his death to raise the people. Maso was ob- 
served to leave his house and proceed to that of an apothe* 
cary, near the church of San Pietro Maggiore, which he 
entered. The man who went to watch him ran to give in- 
formation to the other conspirators, who took their arms and 
hastened to the house of the apothecary, but found that 
Maso had gone. However, undaunted with the failure of 
their first attempt, they proceeded to the Old Market, where 
they slew one of the adverse party, and with loud cries of 
I people, arms, liberty, and death to the tyrants," directed their 
course towards the New Market, and at the end of the Cali- 
mala slew another. Pursuing their course with the same 
cries, and finding no one join them in arms, they stopped at 
the Loggia Nighittosa, where, from an elevated situation, 
being surrounded with a great multitude, assembled to look 
on rather than assist them, they exhorted the men to take 
arms and deliver themselves from the slavery which weighed 
so heavily upon them ; declaring that the complaints of the 
discontented in the city, rather than their own grievances, 
had induced them to attempt their deliverance. They 
had heard that many prayed to God for an opportunity of 
avenging themselves, and vowed they would use it when- 
ever they found any one to conduct them ; but now, when 
the favourable circumstances occurred, and they found 
those who were ready to lead them, they stared at each other 
like men stupified, and would waft till those who were en- 
deavouring to recover for them their liberty were slain, and 
their own chains more strongly riveted upon them ; they 
wondered that those who were wont to take arms upon slight 

154 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. to. i/i. ch. 7. a.d.1397. 

occasions, remained unmoved under the pressure of so many 
and so great evils ; and that they could willingly suffer such 
numbers of their fellow citizens to be banished, so many 
admonished, when it was in their power to restore the 
banished to their country, and the admonished to the honours 
of the state. These words, although full of truth, produced no 
effect upon those to whom they were addressed ; for they were 
either restrained by their fears, or, on account of the two 
murders that had been committed, disgusted with the parties. 
Thus the movers of the tumult, finding that neither words or 
deeds had force sufficient to stir any one, saw, when too late, 
how dangerous a thing it is to attempt to set a people free 
who are resolved to be slaves ; and, despairing of success, 
they withdrew to the temple of Santa Reparata, where, not 
to save their lives, but to defer the moment of their deaths, 
they shut themselves up. Upon the first rumour of the 
affair, the Signory being in fear, armed and secured the 
palace ; but when the facts of the case were understood, the 
parties known, and whither they had betaken themselves, 
their fears subsided, and they sent the Capitano with a suffi- 
cient body of armed men to secure them. The gates of the 
temple were forced without much trouble ; part of the con- 
spirators were slain defending themselves ; the remainder 
were made prisoners and examined, but none were found 
implicated in the affair except Baroccio and Piggiello Cavic- 
ciulli, who were put to death with them. 

Shortly after this event, another occurred of greater im- 
portance. The Florentines were, as we have before remarked, 
at war with the duke of Milan, who, finding that with merely 
open force he could not overcome them, had recourse to 
secret practices, and with the assistance of the exiles of whom 
Lombardy was full, he formed a plot to which many in the 
city were accessary. It was resolved by the conspirators, 
that most of the emigrants capable of bearing arms, should 
set out from the places nearest Florence, enter the city by the 
river Arno, and with their friends hasten to the residences 
of the chiefs of the government ; and having slain them, 
reform the republic according to their own will. Of the 
conspirators within the city, was one of the Ricci named 
Samminiato ; and as it often happens in treacherous practices, 
few are insufficient to effect the purposes of the plot, and 

B. ui . en. 7. a.d. 1400. DEATH OF GALEAZZO. 155 

among many secrecy cannot be preserved, so, whilst Sammi- 
niato was in quest of associates, he found an accuser. He 
confided the affair to Salvestro Cavicciulli, whose wrongs and 
those of his friends were thought sufficient to make him 
faithful ; but he, more influenced by immediate fear than the 
hope of future vengeance, discovered the whole affair to the 
Signory, who, having caused Samminiato to be taken, com- 
pelled him to tell all the particulars of the matter. How- 
ever, none of the conspirators were taken, except Tommaso 
Davizi, who, coming from Bologna, and unaware of what had 
occurred at Florence, was seized immediately upon his arrival. 
All the others had fled immediately upon the apprehension of 

Samminiato and Tommaso having been punished according 
to their deserts, a Balia was formed of many citizens, 
which sought the delinquents, and took measures for the 
security of the state. They declared six of the family of the 
Ricci rebels ; also, six of the Alberti ; two of the Medici ; 
three of the Scali ; two of the Strozzi ; Bindo Altoviti, Ber- 
nardo Adimari, and many others of inferior quality. They 
admonished all the family of the Alberti, the Ricci, and the 
Medici for ten years, except a few individuals. Amongst the 
Alberti, not admonished, was Antonio, who was thought to 
be quiet and peaceable. It happened, however, before all 
suspicion of the conspiracy had ceased, a monk was taken 
who had been observed during its progress to pass frequently 
between Bologna and Florence. He confessed that he had often 
carried letters to Antonio, who was immediately seized, and, 
though he denied all knowledge of the matter from the first, 
the monk's accusation prevailed, and he was fined in a con- 
siderable sum of money, and banished a distance of three 
hundred miles from Florence. That the Alberti might not 
constantly place the city in jeopardy, every member of the 
family was banished whose age exceeded fifteen years. 

These events took place in the year 1400, and two year* 
afterwards, died Giovanni Galeazzo, duke of Milan, whose 
death as we have said above, put an end to the war, which 
had then continued twelve years. At this time, the govern- 
ment having gained greater strength, and being without ene- 
mies external or internal, undertook the conquest of Pisa, 
and having gloriously completed it, the peace of the city re- 

156 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. ni. ch. 7. a.d. 1420 

mained undisturbed from 1400 to 1433, except that in 
1412, the Alberti, having crossed the boundary they 
were forbidden to pass, a Balia was formed which with new 
provisions fortified the state and punished the offenders with 
heavy fines. During this period also, the Florentines made 
war with Ladislaus, king of Naples, who finding himself in 
great danger ceded to them the city of Cortona of which he 
was master ; but soon afterwards, recovering his power, he 
renewed the war, which became far more disastrous to the 
Florentines than before ; and had it not, in 1414, been termi- 
nated by his death, as that of Lombardy had been by the 
death of the duke of Milan, he, like the duke, would have 
brought Florence into great danger of losing her liberty. 
Nor was the war with the king concluded with less good 
fortune than the former ; for when he had taken Rome, 
Sienna, the whole of La Marca and Romagna, and had only 
Florence itself to vanquish, he died. Thus death has always 
been more favourable to the Florentines than any other 
friend, and more potent to save them than their own valour. 
From the time of the king's decease, peace was preserved 
both at home and abroad for eight years, at the end of 
which, with the wars of Filippo, duke of Milan, the spirit 
of faction again broke out, and was only appeased by the 
ruin of that government which continued from 1381 to 
1434, had conducted with great gl^ory sjo many enterprises ; 
acquired Arezzo, Pisa, Cortona, Leghorn, and Monte Pul- 
ciano ; and would have accomplished more if the citizens had 
lived in unity, and had not revived former factions ; as in 
the following book will be particularly shown. 

B. iv. en. 1. a.d. 1422. NATUBE OF REPUBLICANISM. 157 



Licence and Slavery peculiar defects in republican governments — Ap- 
plication of this reflection to the state of Florence — Giovanni di Bicci 
de' Medici re-establishes the authority of his family — Filippo Vis- 
conti, duke of Milan, endeavours to make amicable arrangements 
with the Florentines— Their jealousy of him — Precautionary measures 
against him — War declared — The Florentines are routed by the ducal 

Republican governments, more especially those imperfectly 
organized, frequently change their rulers and the form of 
their institutions ; not by the influence of liberty or subjec- 
tion, as many suppose, but by that of slavery and licence ; 
for with the nobility or the people, the ministers respectively 
of slavery or licentiousness, only the name of liberty is in any 
estimation, neither of them choosing to be subject either to 
magistrates or laws. When, however, a good, wise, and 1 
powerful citizen appears (which is but seldom), who establishes 
ordinances capable of appeasing or restraining these contend- 
ing dispositions, so as to prevent them from doing mischief, 
then the government may be called free, and its institutions 
firm and secure ; for having good laws for its basis, and good 
regulations for carrying them into effect, it needs not, like 
others, the virtue of one man for its maintenance. With 
such excellent laws and institutions, many of those ancient 
republics, which were of long duration, were endowed. But 
these advantages are, and always have been, denied to those 
which frequently change from tyranny to licence, or the 
reverse ; because, from the powerful enemies which each con- 
dition creates itself, they neither have, nor can possess any 
stability ; for tyranny cannot please the good, and licence is 
offensive to the wise : the former may easily be productive 
of mischief, while the latter can scarcely be beneficial; in 
the former, the insolent have too much authority, and in the 
latter, the foolish ; so that each requires for their welfare 
the virtue and the good fortune of some individual who 

158 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. it. ch.1. a.d. 1422. 

may be removed by death, or become unserviceable by mis- 

Hence, it appears, that the government which commenced 
in Florence at the death of Giorgio Scali, in 1381, was first 
sustained by the talents of Maso degli Albizzi, and then by 
those of Niccolo da Uzzano. The city remained tranquil 
from 1414 to 1422; for king Ladislaus was dead, and 
Lombardy divided into several parts ; so that there was 
nothing either internal or external to occasion uneasiness. 
Next to Niccolo da Uzzano in authority, were Bartolomeo 
Valori, Neroni di Nigi, Rinaldo degli Albizzi, Neri di Gino, 
and Lapo Niccolini. The factions that arose from the quar- 
rels of the Albizzi and the Ricci, and which were afterwards 
so unhappily revived by Salvestro de' Medici, were never 
extinguished ; for though the party most favoured by the 
rabble only continued three years, and in 1381 was put 
down, still, as it comprehended the greatest numerical pro- 
portion, it was never entirely extinct, though the frequent 
Balias and persecutions of its leaders from 1381 to 1400, 
reduced it almost to nothing. The first families that suf- 
fered in this way were the Alberti, the Ricci, and the Me- 
dici, which were frequently deprived both of men and 
money ; and if any of them remained in the city, they were 
deprived of the honours of government. These oft-repeated 
acts of oppression humiliated the faction, and almost annihi- 
lated it. Still, many retained the remembrance of the in- 
juries they had received, and a desire of vengeance remained 
pent in their bosoms, ungratified and unquenched. Those 
nobles of the people, or new nobility, who peaceably go- 
verned the city, committed two errors, which eventually 
caused the ruin of their party ; the first was, that by long 
continuance in power they became insolent ; the second, that 
the envy they entertained towards each other, and their un- 
interrupted possession of power, destroyed that vigilance over 
those who might injure them, which they ought to have 
exercised. Thus daily renewing the hatred of the mass of 
the people by their sinister proceedings, and either negli- 
gent of the threatened dangers, because rendered fearless 
by prosperity, or encouraging them through mutual envy, 
they gave an opportunity to the family of the Medici to 
recover their influence. The first to do so was Giovanni di 

B. iv. cu. 1. a.d. 1422. FILTPPO VISCONTI. 159 

Bicci de' Medici, who having become one of the richest men, 
and being of a humane and benevolent disposition, obtained 
the supreme magistracy by consent of those in power. 
This circumstance gave so much gratification to the mass of 
the people (the multitude thinking they had now found a de- 
fender), that not without occasion the judicious of the party 
observed it with jealousy, for they perceived all the former 
feelings of the city revived. Niccolo da Uzzano did not fail 
to acquaint the other citizens with the matter, explaining 
to them how dangerous it was to aggrandise one who pos- 
sessed so much influence ; that it was easy to remedy an 
evil at its commencement, but exceedingly difficult after 
having allowed it to gather strength ; and that Giovanni 
possessed several qualities far surpassing those of Salves- 
tro. The associates of Niccolo were uninfluenced by his 
remarks ; for they were jealous of his reputation, and de- 
sired to exalt some person, by means of whom he might be 

This was the state of Florence, in which opposing feelings 
began to be observable, when Filippo Visconti, second son 
of Giovanni Galeazzo, having, by the death of his brother, 
become master of all Lombardy, and thinking he might 
undertake almost anything, greatly desired to recover Genoa, 
which enjoyed freedom under the Dogiate of Tommaso da 
Campo . Fregoso. He did not think it advisable to at- 
tempt this, or any other enterprise, till he had renewed 
amicable relations with the Florentines, and made his good 
understanding with them known ; but with the aid of their 
reputation he trusted he should attain his wishes. He 
therefore sent ambassadors -to Florence to signify his desires. 
Many citizens were opposed to his design, but did not wish 
to interrupt the peace with Milan, which had now continued 
for many years. They were fully aware of the advantages 
he would derive from a war with Genoa, and the little use it 
would be to Florence. Many others were inclined to accede 
to it, but would set a limit to his proceedings, which, if he 
were to exceed, all would perceive his base design, and thus 
they might, when the treaty was broken, more justifiably 
make war against him. The question having been strongly 
debated, an amicable arrangement was at length effected, by 

ICO HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. rr. ch. 1. a.d. 142: 

which Filippo engaged not to interfere with anything on th 
Florentine side of the rivers Magra and Panaro. 

Soon after the treaty was concluded, the duke took pos 
session of Brescia, and shortly afterwards of Genoa, contrar 
to the expectation of those who had advocated peace ; fo 
they thought Brescia would be defended by the Venetians 
and Genoa would be able to defend herself. And as in the 
treaty which Filippo made with the Doge of Genoa, he hac 
acquired Serezana and other places situate on this side the 
Magra, upon condition that, if he wished to alienate them 
they should be given to the Genoese, it was quite palpable 
that he had broken the treaty ; and he had, besides, entered 
into another treaty with the legate of Bologna, in opposition 
to his engagement respecting the Panaro. These things 
disturbed the minds of the citizens, and made them, appre- 
hensive of new troubles, consider the means to be adopted 
for their defence. 

The dissatisfaction of the Florentines coming to the know- 
ledge of Filippo, he, either to justify himself, or to become 
acquainted with their prevailing feelings, or to lull them to 
repose, sent ambassadors to the city, to intimate that he was 
greatly surprised at the suspicions they entertained, and 
offer to revoke whatever he had done that could be 
thought a ground of jealousy. This embassy produced no 
other effect than that of dividing the citizens ; one party, 
that in greatest reputation, judged it best to arm, and pre- 
pare to frustrate the enemy's designs; and if he were to re- 
main quiet, it would not be necessary to go to war with him, 
but an endeavour might be made to preserve peace. Many 
others, either envious of those in power, or fearing a rupture 
with the duke, considered it unadvisable so lightly to enter- 
tain suspicions of an ally, and thought his proceedings need 
not have excited so much distrust ; that appointing the Ten 
and hiring forces was in itself a manifest declaration of war. 
which, if undertaken against so great a prince, would bring 
certain ruin upon the city without the hope of any advantage : 
for possession could never be retained of the conquests thai 
might be made, because Romagna lay between, and the 
vicinity of the church ought to prevent any attempt againsl 
Romagna itself. However, the views of those who were ir 

it. ch. I.a.d. 1422. WAR DISCUSSED. 161 

.vour of war prevailed, the Council of Ten were appointed, 
>rces were hired, and new taxes levied, which, as they were 
ore burdensome upon the lower than the upper ranks, filled 
ie city with complaints, and aH«*«Qndemned the ambition 
id avarice of the great, declaring that^ to gratify themselves 
id oppress the people, they would goMa war without any 
.stifiable motive. 

They had not yet come to an open rupture with the duke, 
it everything tended to excite suspicion ; for Filippo had. 

the request of the legate of Bologna (who was in fear of 
ntonio Bentivogli, an emigrant of Bologna at Castel Bo- 
gnese), sent forces to that city, which, being close upon the 
lorentine territory, filled the citizens with apprehension ; 
at what gave every one greater alarm, and offered sufficient 
;casion for the declaration of war, was the expedition made 
9 the duke against Furli. Giorgio Ordelaffi was lord of 
iirli, who dying, left Tibaldo, his son, under the guardian- 
ip of Filippo. The boy's mother, suspicious of his 
lardian, sent him to Lodovico Alidossi, her father, who 
as lord of Imola, but she was compelled by the people of 
urli to obey the will of her deceased husband, to withdraw 
*m from his natural guardian, and place him in the hands 

the duke. Upon this Filippo, the better to conceal his 
irpose, caused the Marquis of Ferrara to send Guido 
:>rello as his agent, with forces, to seize the government of 
arli, and thus the territory fell into the duke's hands. 
r hen this was known at Florence, together with the arrival 

forces at Bologna, the arguments in favour of war were 
eatly strengthened, but there were still many opposed to 

and amongst the rest Giovanni de' Medici, who publicly 
ideavoured to show, that even if the ill designs of the duke 
2re perfectly manifest, it would still be better to wait and 
t him commence the attack, than to assail him ; for in the 
rmer case they would be justified in the view of the princes 

Italy as well as in their own ; but if they were to strike 
e first blow at the duke, public opinion would be as favour- 
ile to him as to themselves ; and besides, they could not 

confidently demand assistance as assailants, as they might 

> if assailed ; and that men always defend themselves 

ore vigorously when they attack others. The advocates 

war considered it improper to await the enemy in 


162 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. iv. ch. 1. A.D. 1- 

their houses, and better to go and seek him ; that fortu 
is always more favourable to assailants than to such 
merely act on the defensive, and that it is less injurious, ev 
when attended with greater immediate expense, to make 1 
at another's door than at our own. These views pi 
vailed, and it was resolved that the Ten should provide 
the means in their power for rescuing Furli from the han 
of the duke. 

Filippo, finding the Florentines resolved to occupy I 
places he had undertaken to defend, postponed all persoc 
considerations, and sent Agnolo della Pergola with a stroi 
force against Imola, that Ludovico, having to provide for t. 
defence of his own possessions, might be unable to prote 
the interests of his grandson. Agnolo approached Imo 
whilst the forces of the Florentines were at Modigliana, ai - 
an intense frost having rendered the ditches of the city pas ■ 
able, he crossed them during the night, captured the plac 
and sent Lodovico a prisoner to Milan. The Florentin 
finding Imola in the hands of the enemy, and the war pu 
licly known, sent their forces to Furli and besieged it on i 
sides. That the duke's people might not relieve it, the 
hired Count Alberigo, who from Zagonara, his own domai 
overran the country daily, up to the gates of Imola. Agno 
della Pergola, finding the strong position which tl 
Florentines had taken prevented him from relieving Fur] 
determined to attempt the capture of Zagonara, thinkir 
they would not allow that place to be lost, and that in ti 
endeavour to relieve it they would be compelled to give u 
their design against Furli, and come to an engagement unde 
great disadvantage. Thus the duke's people compelle 
Alberigo to sue for terms, which he obtained on condition ( 
giving up Zagonara, if the Florentines did not relieve hii 
within fifteen days. This misfortune being known in tl: 
Florentine camp and in the city, and all being anxious thj 
the enemy should not obtain the expected advantage, the 
enabled him to secure a greater ; for having abandoned tb 
siege of Furli to go to the relief of Zagonara, on encounterin 
the enemy they were soon routed, not so much by the bra 
very of their adversaries as by the severity of the season 
for, having marched many hours through deep mud and heav 
rain, they found the enemy quite fresh, and were therefor 

2. a.d. 1423. GENERAL DISCONTENT. 1C3 

R vanquished. Nevertheless, in this great defeat, famous 
ftout all Italy, no death occurred except those of 
.odovico degli Obizi and two of his people, who having 
from their horses were drowned in the morass. 


ae Florentines murmur against those who had been advocates of the 
war — Rinaldo degli Albizzi encourages the citizens — Measures for the 
■ prosecution of the war — Attempt of the higher classes to deprive thfc 
plebeians of their share in the government — Rinaldo degli Albizzi ad- 
dresses an assembly of citizens and advises the restoration of the Grandi 
— Niccolo da Uzzano wishes to have Giovanni de' Medici on their side 
— Giovanni disapproves of the advice of Rinaldo degli Albizzi. 

he defeat at Zagonara spread consternation throughout 

orence ; but none felt it so severely as the nobility, who 

.d been in favour of the war ; for they perceived their 

emies to be inspirited and themselves disarmed, without 

ends, and opposed by the people, who at the corners of 

•eets insulted them with sarcastic expressions, complaining 

the heavy taxes, and the unnecessary war, and saying. 

Oh ! they appointed the Ten to frighten the enemy. Have 

3y relieved Furli, and rescued her from the hands of the 

ke ? No ! but their designs have been discovered ; and 

lat had they in view ? not the defence of liberty ; for they 

not love her ; but to aggrandize their own power, which 

»d has very justly abated. This is not the only enterprise 

many a one with which they have oppressed the city ; for 

i war against King Ladislaus was of a similar kind. To 

om will they flee for assistance now ? to Pope Martin, 

om they ridiculed before the face of Braccio ; or to Queen 

)vanna, whom they abandoned, and compelled to throw 

•self under the protection of the king of Arragon ?*' To 

se reproaches was added all that might be expected from 

enraged multitude. 

Seeing the discontent so prevalent, the Signory resolved 
assemble a few citizens, and with soft words endeavour 
soothe the popular irritation. On this occasion, Rinaldo 
^li Albizzi, the eldest son of Maso, who, by his own 
M 2 

164 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. iv. ch. 2. a.d. 1423 

talents and the respect he derived from the memory of hh 
father, aspired to the first offices in the government, spoke a 
great length ; showing that it is not right to judge of action.' 
merely by their effects ; for it often happens that what ha; 
been very maturely considered is attended with unfavourable 
results : that if we are to applaud evil counsels because the^ 
are sometimes followed by fortunate events, we should onl; 
encourage men in error which would bring great mischief upoi 
the republic ; because evil counsel is not always attendee 
with happy consequences. In the same way, it would b< 
wrong to blame a wise resolution, because of its being at 
tended with an unfavourable issue ; for by so doing, we shoulc 
destroy the inclination of citizens to offer advice and speali 
the truth. He then showed the propriety of undertaking th< 
WM ; and that if it had not been commenced by the Floren 
tines in Romagna the duke would have assailed them in Tus - 
cany. But since it had pleased God, that the Florentine 
people should be overcome, their loss would be still greater i I 
they allowed themselves to be dejected; but if they set 1 
bold front against adversity, and made good use of the mean 
within their power, they would not be sensible of their los 
or the duke of his victory. He assured them they ought no 
to be alarmed by impending expenses and consequent taxa< 
tion ; because the latter might be reduced, and the futur 
expense would not be so great as the former had been ; fo 
less preparation is necessary for those engaged in self-defenc 
than for those who design to attack others. He advised then 
to imitate the conduct of their forefathers, who, by courageou 
conduct in adverse circumstances, had defended themselve 
against all their enemies. 

Thus encouraged, the citizens engaged Count Oddo the soi l 
of Braccio, and united with him, for directing the operation 
of the war, Niccolo Piccinino, a pupil of his father's, and on 
of the most celebrated of all who had served under him. T 
these they added other leaders, and remounted some of thos 
who had lost their horses in the late defeat. They als 
appointed twenty citizens to levy new taxes, who finding th 
Great quite subdued by the recent loss, took courage an 
drained them without mercy. 

These burdens were very grievous to the nobility, who a 
first, in order to conciliate, did not complain of their ow 

B. iv. ch.2.a.d. 1423. E.INALDO DEGLI ALBIZZI. 165 

particular hardships, but censured the tax generally as unjust, 
md advised that something should be done in the way of 
relief; but their advice was rejected in the Councils. There- 
fore, to render the law as offensive as possible, and to make 
all sensible of its injustice, they contrived that the taxes 
should be levied with the utmost rigour, and made it lawful 
to kill any that might resist the officers employed to collect 
them. Hence followed many lamentable collisions, attended 
-with the blood and death of citizens. It began to be the im- 
pression of all, that arms would be resorted to, and all prudent 
persons apprehended some approaching evil ; for the higher 
ranks, accustomed to be treated with respect, could not en- 
dure to be used like dogs ; and the rest were desirous that 
the taxation should be equalized. In consequence of this 
wtate of things, many of the first citizens met together, and it 
was resolved that it had become necessary for their safety, that 
■flome attempt should be made to recover the government ; 
wince their want of vigilance had encouraged men to censure 
public actions, and allowed those to interfere in affairs who 
had hitherto been merely the leaders of the rabble. Having 
repeatedly discussed the subject, they resolved to meet again 
at an appointed hour, when upwards of seventy citizens 
assembled in the church of St. Stephen, with the permission 
of Lorenzo Ridolfi and Francesco Gianfigliazzi, both members 
of the Signory. Giovanni de' Medici was not among them, 
either because being under suspicion he was not invited. 
or that entertaining different views he was unwilling to in- 

Rinaldo degli Albizzi addressed the assembly, describing 
the condition of the city, and showing how by their own 
negligence it had again fallen under the power of the ple- 
beians, from whom it had been wrested by their fathers in 
1381. He reminded them of the iniquity of the govern- 
ment which was in power from 1378 to 1381, and that all 
who were then present had to lament, some a father, others 
a grandfather, put to death by its tyranny. He assured 
them they were now in the same danger, and that the city 
was sinking under the same disorders. The multitude had 
already imposed a tax of its own authority ; and would soon, 
if not restrained by greater force or better regulations, appoint 
the magistrates, who, in this case, would occupy their places, 

166 HISTORY Or FLORENCE. B. iv. ch. 2.a.d 1423 

and overturn the government which for forty-two yean 
had ruled the city with so much glory ; the citizens would 
then be subject to the will of the multitude, and live 
disorderly and dangerous, or be under the command of some 
individual who might make himself prince. For these reasons 
he was of opinion, that whoever loved his country and his 
honour must arouse himself, and call to mind the virtue ol 
Bardo Mancini, who, by the ruin of the Alberti, rescued the 
city from the dangers then impending ; and that the cause of 
the audacity now assumed by the multitude was the extensive 
Squittini or Pollings, which, by their negligence, were 
allowed to be made; for thus the palace had become filled 
with low men. He therefore concluded, that the only 
means of remedying the evil was to restore the government 
to the nobility, and diminish the authority of the minor 
trades by reducing the companies from fourteen to seven, 
which would give the plebeians less authority in the councils, 
both by the reduction in their number and by increasing the 
authority of the Great ; who, on account of former enmities, 
would be disinclined to favour them. He added, that it is a 
good thing to know how to avail themselves of men according 
to the times ; and that as their fathers had used the ple- 
beians to reduce the influence of the Great, that now, the 
Great having been humbled, and the plebeians become inso- 
lent, it was well to restrain the insolence of the latter by the 
assistance of the former. To effect this they might proceed 
either openly or otherwise, for some of them belonging to the 
Council of Ten, forces might be led into the city without ex- 
citing observation. 

Rinaldo was much applauded, and his advice was approved 
of by the whole assembly. Niccolo da Uzano, who, among 
others, replied to it, said, " All that Rinaldo had advanced was 
correct, and the remedies he proposed good and certain, if 
they could be adopted without an absolute division of the 
city ; and this he had no doubt would be effected if they 
could induce Giovanni de' Medici to join them ; for with him 
on their side, the multitude being deprived of their chief 
and stay, would be unable to oppose them ; but that if he did 
not concur -with them they could do nothing without arms, 
and that with them they would incur the risk of being van- 
quished, or of not being able to reap the fruit of victory." 

B. iv. ch. 2. a.d. 1423. SPEECH OF GIOVANNI. 167 

He then modestly reminded them of what he had said 
upon a former occasion, and of their reluctance to remedy 
the evil when it might easily have been done : that now 
the same remedy could not be attempted without incurring 
the danger of greater evils, and therefore there was nothing 
left for them to do but to gain him over to their side, if prac- 
ticable. Rinaldo was then commissioned to wait upon 
Giovanni and try if he could induce him to join them. 

He undertook this commission, and in the most prevailing 
-words he could make use of endeavoured to induce him to 
coincide with their views ; and begged that he would not, by 
favouring an audacious mob, enable them to complete the 
ruin both of the government and the city. To this Giovanni 
replied, that he considered it the duty of a good and wise 
citizen to avoid altering the institutions to which a city is 
accustomed ; there being nothing so injurious to the people 
as such a change ; for many are necessarily offended, and 
where there are several discontented, some unpropitious 
event may be constantly apprehended. He said it appeared 
to him that their resolution would have two exceedingly 
pernicious effects ; the one conferring honours on those who, 
having never possessed them, esteemed them the less, and 
therefore had the less occasion to grieve for their absence ; 
the other taking them from those who being accustomed to 
their possession would never be at rest till they were restored 
to them. It would thus be evident that the injury done to 
one party, was greater than the benefit they had conferred 
upon the other ; so that whoever was the author of the pro- 
position, he would gain few friends and make many enemies, 
and that the latter would be more resolutely bent upon 
injuring him than the former would be zealous for his 
defence, for mankind are naturally more disposed to revenge 
than to gratitude, as if the latter could only be exercised 
with some inconvenience to themselves, whilst the former 
brings alike gratification and profit. Then, directing his 
discourse more particularly to Rinaldo, be said, " And you, 
if you could call to mind past events, and knew how craftily 
affairs are conducted in this city, would not be so eager in 
this pursuit ; for he who advises it, when by your aid he has 
wrested the power from the people, will, with the people's 
assistance, who will have become your enemies, deprive you 

168 HISTORT OJT FLORENCE. B. xv. cu. 3. a.d. 142J. 

of it. And it will happen to you as to Benedetto AVberti, 
who, at the persuasion of those who were not his friends, 
consented to the ruin of Giorgio Scali and Tommaso Strozzi, 
and shortly afterwards was himself sent into exile by the 
very same men." He therefore advised Rinaldo to think 
more maturely of these things, and endeavour to imitate his 
father, who, to obtain the benevolence of all, reduced the price 
of salt, provided that whoever owed taxes under half a florin 
should be at liberty to pay them or not, as he thought 
proper, and that at the meeting of the Councils every one 
should be free from the importunities of his creditors. He 
concluded by saying, that as regarded himself, he was dis- 
posed to let the government of the city remain as it was. 


Giovanni de' Medici acquires the favour of the people — Bravery of 
Biaggio del Melano — Baseness of Zanobi del Pino — The Florentines 
obtain the friendship of the lord of Faenza — League of the Florentines 
with the Venetians— Origin of the Catasto— The rich citizens discon- 
tented with it — Peace with the duke of Milan — New disturbances on 
account of the Catasto. 

These events, and the circumstances attending them, be- 
coming known to the people, contributed greatly to increase 
the reputation of Giovanni, and brought odium on those who 
had made the proposals ; but he assumed an appearance of 
indifference, in order to give less encouragement to those 
who by his influence were desirous of change. In his dis- 
course he intimated to every one that it is not advisable to 
promote factions, but rather to extinguish them ; and that 
whatever might be expected of him, he only sought the 
union of the city. This, however, gave offence to many of 
his party; for they would have rather seen him exhibit 
greater activity. Amongst others so disposed, was Alaman- 
no de' Medici, who being of a restless disposition, never 
ceased exciting him to persecute enemies and favour friends ; 
condemning his coldness and slow method of proceeding, 

B. iv. en. 3. a.d. 1423. COURAGE OF. BIAGGIO. 169 

which he said was the cause of his enemies' practising against 
him, and that these practices would one day effect the ruin 
of himself and his friends. He endeavoured to excite Cosmo, 
his son, with similar discourses ; but Giovanni, for all that 
was either disclosed or foretold him, remained unmoved, 
although parties were now declared, and the city in manifest 

There were at the palace, in the service of the Signory, 
two chancellors, Ser Martino and Ser Pagolo. The latter 
favoured the party of Niccolo da Uzano, the former that of 
Giovanni ; and Rinaldo, seeing Giovanni unwilling to join 
them, thought it would be advisable to deprive Ser Martino 
of his office, that he might have the palace more completely 
under his control. The design becoming known to his 
adversaries, Ser Martino was retained and Ser Pagolo dis- 
charged, to the great injury and displeasure of Rinaldo and 
his party. This circumstance would soon have produced 
most mischievous effects, but for the war with which the city 
was threatened, and the recent defeat suffered at Zagonara, 
which served to check the audacity of the people ; for whilst 
these events were in progress at Florence, Agnolo della 
Pergola, with the forces of the duke, had taken all the towns 
and cities possessed by the Florentines in Romagna, except 
Castrocaro and Modigliano ; partly from the weakness of the 
places themselves, and partly by the misconduct of those 
who had the command of them. In the course of the cam- 
paign, two instances occurred which served to show how 
greatly courage is admired even in enemies, and how much 
cowardice and pusillanimity are despised. 

Biaggio del Melano was castellan in the fortress of Monte 
Petroso. Being surrounded by enemies, and seeing no 
chance of saving the place, which was already in flames, he 
cast clothes and straw from a part which was not yet on fire, 
and upon these he threw his two little children, saying to the 
enemy, " Take to yourselves those goods which fortune has 
bestowed upon me, and of which you may deprive me ; but 
those of the mind, in which my honour and glory consist, I will 
not give up. neither can you wrest them from me." The be- 
siegers ran to save the children, and placed for their father 
ropes and ladders, by which to save himself, but he would 
not use them, and rather chose to die in the flames than owe 

170 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. iv. ch. 3. a.d. 1423 

his safety to the enemies of his country : an example worthy 
of that much lauded antiquity, which offers nothing to sur- 
pass it, and which we admire the more from the rarity of 
any similar occurrence. Whatever could be recovered from 
the ruins, was restored for the use of the children, and 
carefully conveyed to their friends ; nor was the republic 
less grateful ; for as long as they lived, they were supported 1 
at her charge. 

An example of an opposite character occurred at Galeata, 
where Zanobi del Pino was governor ; he, without offering 
the least resistance, gave up the fortress to the enemy ; and 
besides this, advised Agnolo della Pergola to leave the Alps 
of Romagna, and come among the smaller hills of Tuscany, 
where he might carry on the war with less danger and greater 
advantage. Agnolo could not endure the mean and base 
spirit of this man, and delivered him to his own attendants, 
who, after many reproaches, gave him nothing to eat but 
paper painted with snakes, saying, that of a Guelph they 
would make him a Ghibelline ; and thus fasting, he died in 
a few days. 

At this time Count Oddo and Niccolo Piccinino entered 
the Val di Lamona, with the design of bringing the lord of 
Faenza over to the Florentines, or at least inducing him to 
restrain the incursions of Agnolo della Pergola into Romagna ; 
but as this valley is naturally strong, and its inhabitants war- 
like, Count Oddo was slain there, and Niccolo Piccinino sent 
a prisoner to Faenza. Fortune, however, caused the Floren- 
tines to obtain by their loss, what, perhaps, they would have 
failed to acquire by victory ; for Niccolo so prevailed with 
the lord of Faenza and his mother, that they became friends 
of the Florentines. By this treaty, Niccolo Piccinino was set at 
liberty, but did not take the advice he had given others ; for 
whilst in treaty with the city, concerning the terms of his 
engagement, either the conditions proposed were insufficient, 
or he found better elsewhere ; for quite suddenly he left 
Arezzo, where he had been staying, passed into Lombardy, 
and entered the service of the duke. 

The Florentines, alarmed by this circumstance, and reduced 
to despondency by their frequent losses, thought themselves 
unable to sustain the war alone, and sent ambassadors to the 
Venetians, to beg they would lend their aid to oppose the 

IV it. 01. 3. A. D. 1423. TREATY WITH VENICE. 1 71 

greatness of one who, if allowed to aggrandise himself, 
would soon become as dangerous to them as to the Flo- 
rentines themselves. The Venetians were advised to adopt 
the same course by Francesco Carmignuola, one of the most 
distinguished warriors of those times, who had been in the 
service of the duke, and had afterwards quitted it ; but they 
hesitated, not knowing how far to trust him ; for they thought 
his enmity with the duke was only feigned. Whilst in this 
suspense, it was found that the duke, by means of a servant 
of Carmignuola, had caused poison to be given him in his 
food, which, although it was not fatal, reduced him to ex- 
tremity. The truth being discovered, the Venetians laid 
aside their suspicion ; and as the Florentines still solicited 
their assistance, a treaty was formed between the two powers, 
by which they agreed to carry on the war at the common 
expense of both : the conquests in Lombardy to be assigned 
to the Venetians ; those in Romagna and Tuscany to the 
Florentines ; and Carmignuola was appointed Captain- general 
of the League. By this treaty the war was commenced in 
Lombardy, where it was admirably conducted ; for in a few 
months many places were taken from the duke, together with 
the city of Brescia, the capture of which was in those days 
considered a most brilliant exploit. 

The war had continued from 1422 to 1427, and the 
citizens of Florence were so wearied of the taxes that had 
been imposed during that time, that it was resolved to revise 
them, preparatory to their amelioration. That they might 
be equalized according to the means of each citizen, it was 
proposed that whoever possessed property of the value of 
one hundred florins should pay half a florin of taxes. Indi- 
vidual contribution would thus be determined by an inva- 
riable rule, and not left to the discretion of parties ; and as it 
was found that the new method would press heavily upon the 
powerful classes, they used their utmost endeavours to pre- 
vent it from becoming law. Giovanni de' Medici alone de- 
clared himself in favour of it, and by his means it was passed. 
In order to determine the amount each had to pay, it was 
necessary to consider his property in the aggregate, which 
the Florentines call accatastare, and which in this application 
of it would signify to rate or value, and hence this tax re- 
ceived the name of catasto. The new method of rating 

172 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. iv. ch. 3. a.d. 1427. 

formed a powerful check to the tyranny of the Great, who 
could no longer oppress the lower classes, or silence them 
with threats in the council as they had formerly done, and it 
therefore gave general satisfaction, though to the wealthy 
classes it was in the highest degree offensive.] But as it is 
found men are never satisfied, but that the possession of one 
advantage only makes them desire more, the people, not 
content with the equality of taxation which the new law pro- 
duced, demanded that the same rule should be applied to 
past years ; that an investigation should be made to deter- 
mine how much, according to the Catasto, the rich had paid 
less than their share, and that they should now pay up to an 
equality with those who, in order to meet the demand un- 
justly made, had been compelled to sell their possessions. 
This proposal alarmed the Great more than the Catasto had 
done ; and in self-defence they unceasingly decried it, declar- 
ing it in the highest degree unjust in being laid not only 
on immoveable but movable property, which people possess 
to-day and lose to-morrow ; that many persons have hidden 
wealth which the Catasto cannot reach ; that those who leave 
their own affairs to manage those of the republic ought to 
be less burdened by her, it being enough for them to 
give their labour, and that it was unjust of the city to take 
both their property and their time, whilst of others she only 
took money. The advocates of the Catasto replied, that if 
moveable property varies, the taxes would also vary, and fre- 
quently rating it would remedy the evil to which it was sub- 
ject ; that it was unnecessary to mention those who possessed 
hidden property ; for it would be unreasonable to take taxes 
for that which produced no interest, and that if it paid any- 
thing, it could not fail to be discovered : that those who did 
not like to labour for the republic might cease to do so ; for 
no doubt she would find plenty of loving citizens who would 
take pleasure in assisting her with both money and counsel : 
that the advantages and honours of a participation in the 
government are so great, that of themselves they are a suffi- 
cient remuneration to those who thus employ themselves, 
without wishing to be excused from paying their share of taxes. 
But, they added, the real grievance had not been mentioned : 
for those who were offended with the Catasto, regretted 
they could no longer involve the city in all the difficulties of 

a cm. 3. a. d. 1428. P£ACE CONCLUDED. 173 

war without injury to themselves, now that they had to con- 
tribute like the rest ; and that if this law had then been in 
force they would not have gone to war with King Ladislaus, 
or the Duke Filippo, both which enterprises had been com- 
menced not through necessity, but to impoverish the citizens. 
The excitement w r as appeased by Giovanni de' Medici who 
said, " It is not well to go into things so long past, unless to 
learn something for our present guidance ; and if in former 
times the taxation has been unjust, we ought to be thankful, 
that we have now discovered a method of making it equitable, 
and hope that this will be the means of uniting the citizens, 
not of dividing them; which would certainly be the case were 
they to attempt the recovery of taxes for the past, and make 
them equal to the present ; and that he who is content with 
a moderate victory is always most successful ; for those who 
who would more than conquer, commonly lose." With such 
words as these he calmed the disturbance, and this retrospect- 
ive equalization was no longer contemplated. 

The war with the duke still continued ; but peace was at 
length restored by means of a legate of the pope. The 
duke, however, from the first disregarded the conditions, so 
that the league again took arms, and meeting the enemy's 
forces at Maclovio routed them. After this defeat the duke 
again made proposals for peace, to which the Venetians and 
Florentines both agreed ; the former from jealousy of the 
Venetians, thinking they had spent quite enough money in 
the aggrandisement of others ; the latter, because they found 
Carmignuolo, after the defeat of the duke, proceed but 
coldly in their cause ; so that they thought it no longer safe 
to trust him. A treaty was therefore concluded in 1428, 
by which the Florentines recovered the places they had 
lost in Romagna ; and the Venetians kept Brescia, to which 
the duke added Bergamo and the country around it. In this 
war the Florentines expended three millions and a half of 
ducats, extended the territory and power of the Venetians, 
and brought poverty and disunion upon themselves. 

Being at peace with their neighbours, domestic troubles 
recommenced. The great citizens could not endure the 
Catasto, and not knowing how to set it aside, they endea- 
voured to raise up more numerous enemies to the measure, 
and thus provide themselves with allies to assist them in 

174 HISTOEY OF FLORENCE. B. 4. a.d Ui8. 

annulling it. They therefore instructed the officers appointed 
to levy the tax, that the law required them to extend the 
Oatasto over the property of their nearest neighbours, to see 
if Florentine wealth was concealed among it. The depend- 
ent states were therefore ordered to present a schedule of 
their property against a certain time. This was extremely 
offensive to the people of Volterra, who sent to the Signory to 
complain of it ; but the officers, in great wrath committed 
eighteen of the complainants to prison. The Volterrani how- 
ever, out of a regard for their fellow countrymen who were 
arrested, did not proceed to any violence. 


Death of Giovanni de' Medici — His character — Insurrection of Volterra — 
Volterra returns to her allegiance — Niccolo Fortebraccio attacks the 
Lucchese — Diversity of opinion upon the Lucchese war — War with 
Lucca — Astorre Gianni and Rinaldo degli Albizzi appointed commis- 
saries — Violence of Astorre Gianni. 

About this time Giovanni de' Medici was taken ill, and, find- 
ing his end approach, called his sons Cosmo and Lorenzo to 
him, to give them his last advice, and said, " I find I have 
nearly reached the term which God and nature appointed at 
my birth, and I die content, knowing that I leave you rich, 
healthy, and of such standing in society, that if you pursue 
the same course that I have, you will live respected in Flo- 
rence, and in favour with every one. Nothing cheers me so 
much at this moment, as the recollection that I have never 
wilfully offended any one ; but have always used my utmost 
endeavours to confer benefits upon all. I would have you do 
so too. With regard to state affairs, if you would live in 
security, take just such a share as the laws and your country- 
men think proper to bestow, thus you will escape both danger 
and envy ; for it is not what is given to any individual, but 
what he has determined to possess, that occasions odium. 
You will thus have a larger share than those who endeavour 
to engross more than belongs to them ; for they thus usually 
lose their own, and before they lose it, live in constant dis- 

B. iv, ch. 4. a.d. 1428. 



quiet. By adopting this method, although amongst so many 
enemies, and surrounded by so many conflicting interests, I 
have not only maintained my reputation but increased my in- 
fluence. If you pursue the same course, you will be attended 
by the same good fortune ; if otherwise, you may be assured, 

Br end will resemble that of those who in our own times have 
ight ruin both upon themselves and their families." Soon 
r this interview with his sons, Giovanni died, regretted 
by every one, as his many excellences deserved. He was 
compassionate ; not only bestowing alms on those who asked 
them, but very frequently relieved the necessities of the poor, 
without having been solicited so to do. He loved all ; praised 
the good, and pitied the infirmities of the wicked. He never 
sought the honours of government; yet enjoyed them all; 
and never went to the palace unless by request. He loved 
peace and shunned war ; relieved mankind in adversity, and 
assisted them in prosperity ; never applied the public money 
to his own uses, but contributed to the public wealth. He 
was courteous in office ; not a man of great eloquence, but pos- 
sessed of extraordinary prudence. His demeanour expressed 
melancholy ; but after a short time his conversation became 
pleasant and facetious. He died exceedingly rich in money, 
but still more in good fame and the best wishes of man- 
kind ; and the wealth and respect he left behind him were 
not only preserved but increased by his son Cosmo. 

The Volterran ambassadors grew weary of lying in prison, 
and to obtain their liberty, promised to comply with the com- 
mands of the Florentines. Being set free and returned to 
their city, the time arrived for their new Priors to enter upon 
office, and among those who were drawn, was one named 
Giusto, a plebeian, but possessing great influence with his 
class, and one of those who had been imprisoned at Florence. 
He, being inflamed with hatred against the Florentines on 
account of his public as well as personal injuries, was fur- 
ther stimulated by Giovanni di Contugi, a man of noble 
family, and his colleague in office, to induce the people, by 
the authority of the priors and his own influence, to with- 
draw their country from the power of the Florentines, and 
make himself prince. Prompted by these motives, Giusto 
took arms, rode through the city, seized the Capitano, who 
resided in it, on behalf of the Florentines, and with the 

176 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. iv. ch. 4 a.d. 1429. 

consent of the people, became lord of Volterra. This cir- 
cumstance greatly displeased the Florentines ; but having 
just 'made peace with the duke, and the treaty being yet 
uninfringed on either side, they thought themselves in a con- 
dition to recover the place ; and that the opportunity might 
not be lost, they immediately appointed Rinaldo degli Albizzi 
and Palla Strozzi commissaries, and sent them upon the ex- 
pedition. In the meantime, Giusto, who expected the Flo- 
rentines would attack him, requested assistance of Lucca and 
Sienna. The latter refused, alleging her alliance with Flo- 
rence ; and Pagolo Guinigi, to regain the favour of the 
Florentines, which he imagined he had lost in the war 
with the duke and by his friendship for Filippo, not only 
refused assistance to Giusto, but sent his messenger prisoner 
to Florence. 

The commissaries, to come upon the Volterrani unawares, 
assembled their cavalry, and having raised a good body of 
infantry in the Val d'Arno Inferiore, and the country about 
Pisa, proceeded to Volterra. Although attacked by the 
Florentine" and abandoned by his neighbours, Giusto did 
not yield to fear ; but, trusting to the strength of the city 
and the ruggedness of the country around it, prepared for 
his defence. 

There lived at Volterra one Arcolano, brother of that Gio- 
vanni Contugi who had persuaded Giusto to assume the 
command. He possessed influence among the nobility, and 
having assembled a few of his most confidential friends, he 
assured them that by this event, God had come to the relief 
of their necessities ; for if they would only take arms, de- 
prive Giusto of the Signory, and give up the city to the 
Florentines, they might be sure of obtaining the principal 
offices, and the place would retain all its ancient privileges. 
Having gained them over, they went to the palace in 
which Giusto resided ; and while part of them remained 
below, Arcolano, with three others, proceeded to the chamber 
above, where finding him with some citizens, they drew him 
aside, as if desirous to communicate something of importance, 
and conversing on different subjects, led him to the lower 
apartment, and fell upon him with their swords. They, how- 
ever, were not so quick as to prevent Giusto from making 
use of his own weapon ; for with it he seriously wounded 

B. iv. en. 4.A.D. 1429. WAR PROJECTED. 177 

two of them ; but being unable to resist so many, he was at 
last slain, and his body thrown into the street. Arcolano 
and his party gave up the city to the Florentine commissaries, 
who, being at hand with their forces, immediately took pos- 
session ; but the condition of Volterra was worse than before ; 
for among other things which operated to her disadvantage, 
most of the adjoining country was separated from her, and 
she was reduced to the rank of a vicariate. 

Volterra having been lost and recovered almost at the 
same time, present circumstances afforded nothing of suffi- 
:ient importance to occasion a new war, if ambition had not 
igain provoked one. Niccolo Fortebraccio, the son of a 
sister of Braccio da Perugia, had been in the service of the 
Florentines during most of their wars with the duke. Upon 
he restoration of peace he was discharged ; but when the 
iffair of Volterra took place, being encamped with his people 
it Fucecchio, the commissaries availed themselves both of 
limself and his forces. Some thought that while Rinaldo 
:onducted the expedition along with him, he persuaded him, 
mder one pretext or another, to attack the Lucchese, assuring 
lim, that if he did so, the Florentines would consent to 
mdertake an expedition against them, and would appoint 
urn to the command. When Volterra was recovered, and 
Piccolo returned to his quarters at Fucecchio, he, either at 
he persuasion of Rinaldo, or of his own accord, in November, 
429, took possession of Ruoti and Compito, castles belong- 
ng to the Lucchese, with three hundred cavalry and as many 
nfantry, and then descending into the plain, plundered the 
nhabitants to a vast amount. The news of this incursion 
laving reached Florence, persons of all classes were seen 
gathered in parties throughout the city discussing the matter, 
nd nearly all were in favour of an expedition against Lucca. 
)f the Grandees" thus disposed, were the Medici and their 
►arty, and with them also Rinaldo, either because he thought 
he enterprise beneficial to the republic, or induced by his 
»wn ambition and the expectation of being appointed to the 
ommand. Niccolo da Uzano and his party were opposed to 
he war. It seems scarcely credible that s-i contrary 
•pinions should prevail, though at different tines, in the 
ame men and the same city, upon the subject of war ; for 
he same citizens and people that, during the ten years of 

178 HTSTORY OF FLORENCE, B. iv. ch. 4. a.d. 141 

peace, had incessantly blamed the war undertaken again 
Duke Filippo, in defence of liberty, now, after so much e: 
pense and trouble, with their utmost energy, insisted on ho; 
tilities against Lucca, which, if successful, would deprrs . 
that city of her liberty ; while those who had been in favoi 
of a war with the duke, were opposed to the present ; s 
much more ready are the multitude to covet the possessior 
of others than to preserve their own, and so much mon 
easily are they led by the hope of acquisition than by the fej 
of loss. The suggestions of the latter appear incredible ti 
they are verified ; and the pleasing anticipations of the forme 
are cherished as facts, even whilst the advantages are ver 
problematical, or at best, remote. The people of Florenc I 
were inspired with hope, by the acquisitions which Niccol 
Fortebraccio had made, and by letters received from thel 
rectors in the vicinity of Lucca ; for their deputies at Vic 
and Pescia had written, that if permission were given t 
them to receive the castles that offered to surrender, th j 
whole country of Lucca would very soon be obtained. 1 1 
must, however, be added, that an ambassador was sent M 
the governor of Lucca to Florence, to complain of the attac 
made by Niccolo, and to entreat that the Signory would nc I 
make war against a neighbour, and a city that had alway 
been friendly to them. The ambassador was Jacopo Vivi 
ani, who, a short time previously had been imprisoned b 
Pagolo Guinigi, governor of Lucca, for having conspirei 
against him. Although he had been found guilty, his lif 
was spared, and as Pagolo thought the forgiveness mutua] 
he reposed confidence in him. Jacopo, more mindful of th 
danger he had incurred than of the lenity exercised toward 
him, on his arrival in Florence secretly instigated the citizen 
to hostilities; and these instigations, added to other hopes 
induced the Signory to call the Council together, at whicl 
498 citizens assembled, before whom the principal men o 
the city discussed the question. 

Among the first who addressed the assembly in favour o 
the expedition, was Rinaldo. He pointed out the advantage 
that would accrue from the acquisition, and justified th< 
enterprise from its being left open to them by the Venetian; 
and the duke, and that as the pope was engaged in the 
affairs of Naples, he could not interfere. He then remarkec 

ch. 4. a.d. 1429. XICCOLO DA UZAXO. 179 

upon the facility of the expedition, showing that Lucca, being 
now in bondage to one of her own citizens, had lost her 
natural vigour and former anxiety for the preservation of her 
liberty, and would either be surrendered to them by the 
people in order to expel the tyrant, or by the tyrant for fear 
of the people. He recalled the remembrance of the injuries 
done to the republic by the governor of Lucca ; his malevo- 
lent disposition towards them ; and their embarrassing situa- 
tion with regard to him, if the pope or the duke were to 
make war upon them ; and concluded that no enterprise was 
ever undertaken by the people of Florence with such perfect 
facility, more positive advantage, or greater justice in its 

In reply to this, Niccolo da Uzano stated that the city of 
Florence never entered on a more unjust or more dangerous 
the project, or one more pregnant with evil, than this. In 
first place they were going to attack a Guelphic city, that 
had always been friendly to the Florentine people, and had 
frequently, at great hazard, received the Guelphs into her 
bosom when they were expelled from their own country. 
That in the history of the past there was not an instance, 
whilst Lucca was free, of her having done an injury to the 
Florentines ; and that if they had been injured by her en- 
slavers, as formerly by Castruccio, and now by the present 
governor, the fault was not in the city, but in her tyrant. 
That if they could assail the latter without detriment to the 
people, he should have less scruple, but as this was im- 
possible, he could not consent that a city which had been 
friendly to Florence should be plundered of her w r ealth. 
However, as it was usual at present to pay little or no regard 
either to equity or injustice, he would consider the matter 
solely with reference to the advantage of Florence. He 
thought that what could not easily be attended by pernicious 
consequences might be esteemed useful, but he could not 
imagine how an enterprise should be called advantageous in 
which the evils were certain and the utility doubtful. The 
certain evils were the expenses with which it would be 
attended ; and these, he foresaw, would be sufficiently great 
to alarm even a people that had long been in repose, much 
more one wearied, as they were, by a tedious and expensive 
war. The advantage that might be gained was the acquisi- 

x 2 

180 HISTORY OF "FLORENCE, B. iv. ch. 4. a n. 1429 

tion of Lucca, which he acknowledged to be great ; but the 
hazards were so enormous and immeasurable, as in his 
opinion to render the conquest quite impossible. He could 
not induce himself to believe that the Venetians, or Filippo, 
would willingly allow them to make the acquisition ; for the I 
former only consented in appearance, in order to avoid the 
semblance of ingratitude, having so lately, with Florentine I 
money, acquired such an extent of dominion. That as re- 
garded the duke, it would greatly gratify him to see them 
involved in new wars and expenses ; for, being exhausted and 
defeated on all sides, he might again assail them ; and that 
if, after having undertaken it, their enterprise against Lucca 
were to prove successful, and offer them the fullest hope of 
victory, the duke would not want an opportunity of frus- 
trating their labours, either by assisting the Lucchese secretly 
with money, or by apparently disbanding his own troops, 
and then sending them, as if they were soldiers of fortune, to 
their relief. He therefore advised that they should give up 
the idea, and behave towards the tyrant in such a way as to 
create him as many enemies as possible ; for there was no 
better method of reducing Lucca than to let her live under 
the tyrant, oppressed and exhausted by him ; for, if pru- 
dently managed, that city would soon get into such a con- 
dition that he could not retain it, and being ignorant or 
unable to govern itself, it must of necessity fall into their 
power. But he saw that his discourse did not please them, 
and that his words were unheeded; he would, however, 
predict this to them, that they were about to commence a 
war in which they would expend vast sums, incur great 
domestic dangers, and instead of becoming masters of Lucca, 
they would deliver her from her tyrant, and of a friendly 
city, feeble and oppressed, they would make one free and 
hostile, and that in time she would become an obstacle to 
the greatness of their own republic. 

The question having been debated on both sides, they 
proceeded to vote, as usual, and of the citizens present only 
ninety-eight were against the enterprise. Thus determined 
in favour of war, they appointed a Council of Ten for its 
management, and hired forces, both horse and foot. Astorre 
Gianni and Rinaldo degli Albizzi were appointed commis- 
saries, and Niccolo Fortebraccio, on agreeing to give up to 

n. iv. en 5.A.D. 1429. VIOLENCE OF ASTORRE GIANNI. 181 

the Florentines the places he had taken, was engaged to 
conduct the enterprise as their captain. The commissaries 
having arrived with the army in the country of the Lucchese, 
divided their forces ; one part of which, under Astorre, 
extended itself along the plain, towards Camaiore and Pietra- 
santa, whilst Rinaldo, with the other division, took the 
direction of the hills, presuming that when the citizens found 
themselves deprived of the surrounding country, they would 
easily submit. The proceedings of the commissaries were 
unfortunate, not that they failed to occupy many places, but 
from the complaints made againt them of mismanaging the 
operations of the war ; and Astorre Gianni had certainly 
given very sufficient cause for the charges against him. 

There is a fertile and populous valley near Pietrasanta, 
called Seravezza, whose inhabitants, on learning the arrival of 
the commissary, presented themselves before him, and begged 
he would receive them as faithful subjects of the Florentine 
republic. Astorre pretended to accept their proposal, but 
immediately ordered his forces to take possession of all the 
passes and strong positions of the valley, assembled the men 
in the principal church, took them all prisoners, and then 
caused his people to plunder and destroy the whole country, 
with the greatest avarice and cruelty, making no distinction 
in favour of consecrated places, and violating the women, 
both married and single. These things being known in 
Florence, displeased not only the magistracy, but the whole 


The inhabitants of Seravezza appeal to the Signory — Complaints against 
Rinaldo degli Albizzi — The commissaries changed — Filippo Brunelleschi 
proposes to submerge the country about Lucca — Pagolo Guinigi asks 
mce of the duke of Milan — The duke sends Francesco Sforza — 
Pagolo Guinigi expelled — The Florentines routed by the forces of the 
duke — The acquisitions of the Lucchese after the victory — Conclusion 
of the war. 

A few of the inhabitants of the valley of Seravezza, having 
escaped the hands of the commissary, came to Florence and 

182 HISTORY OF FLOEEXCE. B. iv. ch. 5. A.D.142S 

acquainted every one in the streets with their miserable situ- 
ation ; and by the advise of those who, either through indig- 
nation at his wickedness or from being of the opposite party 
wished to punish the commissary, they went to the Council oJ 
Ten, and requested an audience. This being granted, one oi 
them spoke to the following effect : — " We feel assured, 
magnificent lords, that we shall find credit and compassion 
from the Signory, when you learn how your commissary has I 
taken possession of our country, and in what manner he has I 
treated us. Our valley, as the memorials of your ancient I 
houses abundantly testify, was always Guelphic, and has 
often proved a secure retreat to your citizens when persecuted 
by the Ghibellines. Our forefathers, and ourselves too, have 
always revered the name of this noble republic as the leader 
and head of their party. Whilst the Lucchese were Guelphs 
we willingly submitted to their government ; but when en- 
slaved by the tyrant, who forsook his old friends to join the 
Ghibelline faction, we have obeyed him more through force 
than goodwill. And God knows how often we have prayed, 
that we might have an opportunity of showing our attach- 
ment to our ancient party. But how blind are mankind in 
their wishes ! That which we desired for our safety has 
proved our destruction. As soon as we learned that your 
ensigns were approaching, we hastened to meet your com- 
missary, not as an enemy, but as the representative of our 
ancient lords ; placed our valley, our persons, and our fortunes 
in his hands, and commended them to his good faith, be- 
lieving him to possess the soul, if not of a Florentine, at 
least of a man. Your lordships will forgive us ; for, unable 
to support his cruelties, we are compelled to speak. Your 
commissary has nothing of a man but the shape, nor of a 
Florentine but the name ; a more deadly pest, a more savage 
beast, a more horrid monster never was imagined in the 
human mind ; for, having assembled us in our church, under 
pretence of wishing to speak with us, he made us prisoners. 
He then burnt and destroyed the whole valley, carried off our 
property, ravaged every place, destroyed everything, violated 
the women, dishonoured the virgins, and dragging them from 
the arms of their mothers, gave them up to the brutality of 
his soldiery. If by any injury to the Florentine people we 
merited such treatment, or if he had vanquished us armed in 

B.'S.a.d. 1430. ArPEAL FROM SERA.VEZZA. 183 

our defence, we should have less reason for complaint ; we 
should have accused ourselves, and thought that either our 
mismanagement or our arrogance had deservedly brought the 
calamity upon us ; but after having freely presented ourselves 
to him unarmed, to be robbed and plundered with such un- 
feeling barbarity, is more than we can bear. And though we 
might have filled Lombardy with complaints and charges 
against this city, and spread the story of our misfortunes 
over the whole of Italy, we did not wish to slander so just 
and pious a republic, with the baseness and perfidy of one 
wicked citizen, whose cruelty and avarice, had we known 
them before our ruin was complete, we should have endea- 
voured to satiate, (though indeed they are insatiable and 
boundless,) and with one half of our property have saved the 
rest. But the opportunity is past ; we are compelled to 
have recourse to you, and beg that you will succour the dis- 
tresses of your subjects, that others may not be deterred by 
our example from submitting themselves to your authority. 
And if our extreme distress cannot prevail with you to assist 
us, be induced, by your fear of the wrath of God, who has 
seen his temple plundered and burnt, and his people be- 
trayed in his bosom." Having said this, they threw them- 
selves on the ground, crying aloud, and praying that their 
property and their country might be restored to them ; and 
that if the Signory could not give them back their honour, 
they would, at least, restore husbands to their wives, and 
children to their fathers. The atrocity of the affair having 
already been made known, and now by the living words of 
the sufferers presented before them, excited the compassion 
of the magistracy. They ordered the immediate return of 
Astorre, who being tried, was found guilty, and admonished. 
They sought the goods of the inhabitants of Seravezza; 
all that could be recovered was restored to them, and as 
time and circumstances gave opportunity, they were com- 
pensated for the rest. 

Complaints were made against Rinaldo degli Albizzi, that 
he carried on the war, not for the advantage of the Floren- 
tine people, but his own private emolument ; that as soon as 
he was appointed commissary, he lost all desire to take Lucca, 
for it was sufficient for him to plunder the country, fill his 
estates with cattle, and his house with booty; and, not 

184 HISTOHY OF FLOHEXCE. D. iv. ch. 5. a.d. 1431. ] 

content with what his own satellites took, he purchased that 
of the soldiery, so that instead of a commissary he had be- 
come a merchant. These calumnies coming to his ears, dis- 
turbed the temper of this proud but upright man, more than 
quite became his dignity. He was so exasperated against 
the citizens and magistracy, that without waiting for or ask- 
ing permission, he returned to Florence, and, presenting 
himself before the Council of Ten, he said, that he well knew 
how difficult and dangerous a thing it was to serve an unruly 
people and a divided city; for the one listens to every report, 
the other pursues improper measures ; they neglect to reward 
good conduct, and heap censure upon whatever appears 
doubtful ; so that victory wins no applause, error is accused 
by all, and if vanquished, universal condemnation is incurred ; 
from one's own party through envy, and from enemies 
through hatred, persecution results. He confessed that the 
baseness of the present calumnies had conquered his patience 
and changed the temper of his mind ; but he would say, he 
had never, for fear of a false accusation, avoided doing what 
appeared to him beneficial to the city. However, he trusted 
the magistrates would in future be more ready to defend 
their fellow citizens, so that the latter might continue anxious 
to effect the prosperity of their country ; that as it was not 
customary at Florence to award triumphs for success, they 
ought at least to be protected from calumny ; and that be- 
ing citizens themselves, and at any moment liable to false 
accusations, they might easily conceive how painful it is to 
an upright mind to be oppressed with slander. The Ten 
endeavoured, as well as circumstances would admit, to soothe 
the acerbity of his feelings, and confided the care of the 
expedition to Neri di Gino and Alamanno Salviati, who, in- 
stead of overrunning the country, advanced near to Lucca. 
As the weather had become extremely cold, the forces esta- 
blished themselves at Campannole, which seemed to the com- 
misaries waste of time ; and wishing to draw nearer the place, 
the soldiery refused to comply, although the Ten had insisted 
they should pitch their camp before the city, and would not 
hear of any excuse. 

At that time there lived at Florence, a very distinguished 
architect, named Filippo di Ser Brunelleschi, of whose works 
our city is full, and whose merit was so extraordinary, that 

B. iv. CH.5.A.D. 1431. FILIPP0 BRTJNELLESCHI. 185 

after his death, his statue in marble was erected in the prin- 
cipal church, with an inscription underneath, which still 
bears testimony, to those who read it, of his great talents. 
This man pointed out, that in consequence of the relative 
positions of the river Serchio and the city of Lucca, the 
waters of the river might be made to inundate the sur- 
rounding country, and place the city in a kind of lake. His 
reasoning on this point appeared so clear, and the advan- 
tage to the beseigers so obvious and inevitable, that the 
Ten were induced to make the experiment. The result, 
however, was quite contrary to their expectation, and pro- 
duced the utmost disorder in the Florentine camp ; for the 
Lucchese raised high embankments in the direction of the 
ditch made by our people to conduct the waters of the Serchio, 
and one night cut through the embankment of the ditch itself, 
so that having first prevented the water from taking the course 
designed by the architect, they now caused it to overflow the 
plain, and compelled the Florentines, instead of approaching 
the city as they wished, to take a more remote position. 

This design having failed, the Council of Ten, who had 
been re-elected, sent as commissary, Giovanni Guicciardini, 
who encamped before Lucca, with all possible expedition. 
Pagolo Guinigi finding himself thus closely pressed, by the 
advice of Antonio del Rosso, then representative of the Sien- 
nese at Lucca, sent Salvestro Trento and Leonardo Bonvisi 
to Milan, to request assistance from the duke ; but finding 
him indisposed to comply, they secretly engaged, on the part 
of the people, to deliver their governor up to him and give 
him possession of the place ; at the same time, intimating, 
that if he did not immediately follow this advice, he would 
not long have the opportunity, since it was the intention of 
Pagolo to surrender the city to the Florentines, who were 
very anxious to obtain it. The duke was so much alarmed 
with this idea, that, setting aside all other considerations, he 
caused Count Francesco Sforza, who was engaged in his 
service, to make a public request for permission to go to 
Naples ; and having obtained it, he proceeded with his 
forces directly to Lucca, though the Florentines, aware of 
the deception, and apprehensive of the consequences, had sent 
to the count, Boccacino Alamanni, his friend, to frustrate this 

186 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. a.d. 1432. 1 

arrangement. Upon the arrival of the count at Lucca, the ] 
Florentines removed their camp to Librafatta, and the count I 
proceeded immediately to Pescia, where Pagolo Diacceto 1 
was lieutenant-governor, who, prompted by fear rather than I 
any better motive, fled to Pistoia, and if the place had not | 
been defended by Giovanni Malavolti, to whom the command I 
was entrusted, it would have been lost. The count failing in J 
his attempt, went to Borgo a Buggiano, which he took, and 
burned the castle of Stigliano, in the same neighbourhood. 

The Florentines, being informed of these disasters, found 
they must have recourse to those remedies which upon 
former occasions had often proved useful. Knowing that 
with mercenary soldiers, when force is insufficient, corruption 
commonly prevails, they offered the count a large sum of 
money on condition that he should quit the city, and give it 
up to them. The count finding that no more money was to 
be had from Lucca, resolved to take it of those who had it to 
dispense, and agreed with the Florentines, not to give them 
Lucca, which for decency he could not consent to, but to 
withdraw his troops, and abandon it, on condition of re- 
ceiving fifty thousand ducats ; and having made this agree- 
ment, to induce the Lucchese to excuse him to the duke, he 
consented that they should expel their tyrant. 

Antonio del Rosso, as we remarked above, was Siennese 
ambassador at Lucca, and with the authority of the count he 
contrived the ruin of Pagolo Guinigi. The heads of the 
conspiracy were Pierro Cennami and Giovanni da Chivizzano. 
The count resided upon the Serchio, at a short distance from 
the city, and with him was Lanzilao, the son of Pagolo. 
The conspirators, about forty in number, went armed at 
night in search of Pagolo, who, on hearing the noise they 
made, came towards them quite astonished, and demanded 
the cause of their visit ; to which Piero Cennami replied, 
that they had long been governed by him, and led about 
against the enemy, to die either by hunger or the sword, but 
were resolved to govern themselves for the future, and 
demanded the keys of the city and the treasure. Pagolo 
said the treasure was consumed, but the keys and himself 
were in their power ; he only begged that as his command 
had begun and continued without bloodshed, it might con- 

U. iv. • -h. .'. a.d. 1432. COSMO DE ? MEDICI. 187 

elude in the same manner. Count Francesco conducted 
1 1 and his son to the duke, and they afterwards died in 

The departure of the count having delivered Lucca from 
her tyrant, and the Florentines from their fear of his soldiery, 
the former prepared for her defence, and the latter resumed 
the siege. They appointed the count of Urbino to conduct 
their forces, and he pressed the Lucchese so closely, that they 
were again compelled to ask assistance of the duke, who dis- 
patched Niccolo Piccinino, under the same pretence as he 
previously sent Count Francesco. The Florentine forces me 
him on his approach to Lucca, and at the passage of the 
Serchio a battle ensued, in which they were routed, the 
commissary with a few of his men escaping to Pisa. This 
defeat filled the Florentines with dismay, and as the enter- 
prise had been undertaken with the entire approbation of the 
great body of the people, they did not know whom to find, 
fault with, and therefore railed against those who had been 
appointed to the management of the war, reviving the 
charges made against Rinaldo. They were, however, more 
severe against Giovanni Guicciardini than any other, de- 
claring that if he had wished, he might have put a period 
to the war at the departure of Count Francesco, but that 
he had been bribed with money, for he had sent home a 
large sum, naming the party who had been entrusted to 
bring it, and the persons to whom it had been delivered. 
These complaints and accusations were carried to so great a 
length that the captain of the people, induced by the public 
voice, and pressed by the party opposed to the war, sum- 
moned him to trial. Giovanni appeared, though full of 
indignation. However his friends, from regard to their own 
character, adopted such a course with the Capitano as 
induced him to abandon the inquiry. 

After this victory, the Lucchese not only recovered the 
places that had belonged to them, but occupied all the 
country of Pisa except Bientina, Calcinaja, Livorno, and 
Librafatta ; and, had not a conspiracy been discovered that 
was formed in Pisa, they would have secured that city also. 
The Florentines again prepared for battle, and appointed 
Micheletto, a pupil of Sforza, to be their leader. The duke, 
on the other hand, followed up this victory, and that he 


188 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. iv. ch. 6. a.d. 143?. 

might bring a greater power against the Florentines, induced 
the Genoese, the Siennese, and the governor of Piombino, to 
enter into a league for the defence of Lucca, and to engage 
Niccolo Piccinino to conduct their forces. Having by this 
step declared his design, the Venetians and Florentines 
renewed their league, and the war was carried on openly in 
Tuscany and Lombardy, in each of which several battles 
were fought with variety of fortune. At length, both sides 
being wearied out, they came to terms for the cessation of 
hostilities, in May 1433. By this arrangement the Floren- 
tines, Lucchese, and Siennese, who had each occupied many 
fortresses belonging to the others, gave theln all up, and 
each party resumed its original possessions. 


Cosmo de' Medici, his character and mode of proceedings — The greatness 
of Cosmo excites the jealousy of the citizens — The opinion of Niccolo 
da Uzano — Scandalous divisions of the Florentines— Death of Niccolo 
da Uzano — Bernardo Guadagni, Gonfalonier, adopts measures against 
Cosmo — Cosmo arrested in the palace — He is apprehensive of attempts 
against his life. 

During the war the malignant humours of the city were in 
constant activity. Cosmo de' Medici, after the death of 
Giovanni, engaged more earnestly in public affairs, and con- 
ducted himself with more zeal and boldness in regard to his 
friends than his father had done, so that those who rejoiced 
at Giovanni's death, finding what the son was likely to 
become, perceived they had no cause for exultation. Cosmo 
was one of the most prudent of men ; of grave and court- 
eous demeanour, extremely liberal and humane. He never 
attempted anything against parties, or against rulers, but 
was bountiful to all ; and, by the unwearied generosity of his 
disposition, made himself partisans of all ranks of the 
citizens. This mode of proceeding increased the difficulties 
j of those who were in the government, and Cosmo himself 
\ hoped that by its pursuit he might be able to live in Florence 

B. iv. ch. 6. a.d. 1433. COSMO EXCITES JEALOUSY. 189 

as much respected and as secure as any other citizen ; or if 
the ambition of his adversaries compelled him to adopt a 
different course, arms and the favour of his friends would 
enable him to become more so. Averardo de' Medici and 
Puccio Pucci were greatly instrumental in the establishment 
of his power ; the former by his boldness, the latter by un- 
usual prudence and sagacity, contributed to his aggrandise- 
ment. Indeed the advice and wisdom of Puccio were so 
highly esteemed, that Cosmo's party was rather distin- 
guished by the name of Puccio than by his own. 

By this divided city the enterprise against Lucca was un- 
dertaken ; and the bitterness of party spirit, instead of being 
abated, increased. Although the friends of Cosmo had been 
in favour of it, many of the adverse faction were sent to 
assist in the management, as being men of greater influence 
in the state. Averardo de' Medici and the rest being unable 
to prevent this, endeavoured with all their might to calum- 
niate them ; and when any unfavourable circumstance occurred 
(and there were many), fortune and the exertions of the 
enemy were never supposed to be the causes, but solely the 
want of capacity in the commissary. This disposition aggra- 
vated the offences of Astorre Gianni ; this excited the indig- 
nation of Rinaldo degli Albizzi, and made him resign hi6 
commission without leave ; this, too, compelled the captain 
of the people to require the appearance of Giovanni Guic- 
ciardini, and from this arose all the other charges which were 
made against the magistrates and the commissaries. Real 
evils were magnified, unreal ones feigned, and the true and 
the false were equally believed by the people, who were 
almost universally their foes. 

All these events and extraordinary modes of proceeding 
were perfectly known to Niccolo da Uzano and the other 
leaders of the party ; and they had often consulted together 
for the purpose of finding a remedy, but without effect ; 
though they were aware of the danger of allowing them to 
increase, and the great difficulty that would attend any at- 
tempt to remove or abate them. Niccolo da Uzano was the 
earliest to take offence ; and while the war was proceeding 
without, and these troubles within, Niccolo Barbadoro, 
desirous of inducing him to consent to the ruin of Cosmo, 
waited upon him at his house ; and finding him alone in 

190 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. iv. ch. 6. a.d, 1*33. 

his study, and very pensive, endeavoured, with the best 
reasons he could adduce, to persuade him to agree with 
Rinaldo on Cosmo's expulsion. Niccolo da Uzano replied as 
follows : — " It would be better for thee and thy house, as 
well as for our republic, if thou and those who follow thee in 
this opinion had beards of silver instead of gold, as is said 
of thee ; for advice proceeding from the hoary head of long 
experience would be wiser and of greater service to all. It 
appears to me, that those who talk of driving Cosmo out of 
Florence would do well to consider what is their strength, 
and what that of Cosmo. You have named one party, that 
of the nobility, the other that of the plebeians. If the fact 
corresponded with the name, the victory would still be most 
uncertain ; and the example of the ancient nobility of this 
city, who were destroyed by the plebeians, ought rather to 
impress us with fear than with hope. We have, however, 
still further cause for apprehension from the division of our 
party, and the union of our adversaries. In the first place, 
Neri di Gino and Nerone di Nigi, two of our principal 
citizens, have never so fully declared their sentiments as to 
enable us to determine whether they are most our friends 
or those of our opponents. There are many families, even 
many houses, divided ; many are opposed to us through 
envy of brothers or relatives. I will recall to your recol- 
lection two or three of the most important ; you may think 
of the others at your leisure. Of the sons of Maso degli 
Albizzi, Luca, from envy of Rinaldo, has thrown himself 
into their hands. In the house of Guicciardini, of the sons 
of Luigi, Piero is the enemy of Giovanni and in favour of 
our adversaries. Tommaso and Niccolo Sodorini openly 
oppose us on account of their hatred of their uncle Francesco. 
So that if we consider well what we are, and what our 
enemies, I cannot see why we should be called noble any 
more than they. If it be because they are followed by the 
plebeians, we are in a worse condition on that account, and 
they in a better ; for were it to come either to arms or to 
votes, we should not be able to resist them. True it is, we 
still preserve our dignity, our precedence, the priority of our 
position ; but this arises from the former reputation of the 
government, which has now continued fifty years ; and when- 
ever we come to the proof, or they discover our weakness, 

ch.C.a.d.1433. ADVICE OF UZA.NO. 191 

shall lose it. If you were to say, the justice of our cause 
ought to augment our influence and dimmish theirs, I an- 
swer, that this justice requires to be perceived and believed 
by others as well as by ourselves, but this is not the case ; 
for the justice of our cause is wholly founded upon our 
suspicion that Cosmo designs to make himself prince of the 
city. And although we entertain this suspicion, and suppose 
it to be correct, others have it not ; but, what is worse, they 
charge us with the very design of which we accuse him. 
Those actions of Cosmo which lead us to suspect him are, 
that he lends money indiscriminately, and not to private 
persons only, but to the public ; and not to Florentines only, 
but to the condottieri, the soldiers of fortune. Besides, he 
assists any citizen who requires magisterial aid ; and, by the 
universal interest he possesses in the city, raises first one 
friend and then another to higher grades of honour. There- 
fore, to adduce our reasons for expelling him, would be to 
say that he is kind, generous, liberal, and beloved by all. 
Now tell me, what law is there which forbids, disapproves, 
or condemns men for being pious, liberal, and benevolent? 
And though they are all modes adopted by those who 
aim at sovereignty, they are not believed to be such, nor 
have we sufficient power to make them to be so esteemed ; 
for our conduct has robbed us of confidence, and the city, 
naturally partial and (having always lived in faction) corrupt, 
cannot lend its attention to such charges. But even if we 
were successful in an attempt to expel him (which might 
easily happen under a favourable Signory), how could we 
(being surrounded by his innumerable friends, who would 
constantly reproach us, and ardently desire to see him again 
in the city) prevent his return ? It would be impossible, for 
they being so numerous, and having the good will of all 
upon their side, we should never be secure from them. And 
as many of his first discovered friends as you might expel, so 
many enemies would you make, so that in a short time he 
would return, and the result would be simply this, that we 
had driven him out a good man, and he had returned to us 
a bad one ; for his nature would be corrupted by those who 
recalled him, and he, being under obligation, could not 
oppose them. Or should you design to put him to death, 
you could not attain your purpose with the magistrates, for 

192 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. iv. ch. 6.A.A.H33 

his wealth, and the corruption of your minds, will always 
save him. But let us suppose him put to death, or that, 
being banished, he did not return, I cannot see how the con- 
dition of our republic would be ameliorated ; for if we relieve 
her from Cosmo, we at once make her subject to Rinaldo. 
and it is my most earnest desire that no citizen may ever, in 
power and authority, surpass the rest. But if one of these 
must prevail, I know of no reason that should make me 
prefer Rinaldo to Cosmo. I shall only say, may God pre- 
serve the city from any of her citizens usurping the sove- 
reignty, but if our sins have deserved this, in mercy save us 
from Rinaldo. I pray thee, therefore, do not advise the. 
adoption of a course on every account pernicious, nor imagine 
that, in union with a few, you would be able to oj>pose the 
will of the many ; for the citizens, some from ignorance and 
others from malice, are ready to sell the republic at any time, 
and fortune has so much favoured them, that they have 
found a purchaser. Take my advice then ; endeavour to live 
moderately ; and with regard to liberty, you will find as 
much cause for suspicion in our party as in that of our 
adversaries. And when troubles arise, being of neither side, 
you will be agreeable to both, and you will thus provide for 
your own comfort and do no injury to any." 

These words somewhat abated the eagerness of Barbadoro, 
so that tranquillity prevailed during the war with Lucca. 
But this being ended, and Niccolo da Uzano dead, the city 
being at peace and under no restraint, unhealthy humours 
increased with fearful rapidity. Rinaldo, considering himself 
now the leader of the party, constantly entreated and urged 
every citizen whom he thought likely to be Gonfalonier, to 
take up arms and deliver the country from him who, from 
the malevolence of a few and the ignorance of the multitude, 
was inevitably reducing it to slavery. These practices of 
Rinaldo, and those of the contrary side, kept the city full of 
apprehension, so that whenever a magistracy was created, 
the numbers of each party composing it were made publicly 
known, and upon drawing for the Signory the whole city was 
aroused. Every case brought before the magistrates, how- 
ever trivial, was made a subject of contention among them. 
Secrets were divulged, good and evil alike became objects 
of favour and opposition, the benevolent and the wicked 

a. vr. ch. 6 a.d. 1371. BERNARDO DRAWN GONFALONIER. 193 

were .alike assailed, and no magistrate fulfilled the duties of 
his office with integrity. 

In this state of confusion, Rinaldo, anxious to abate the 
power of Cosmo, and knowing that Bernardo Guadagni was 
likely to become Gonfalonier, paid his arrears of taxes, that 
he might not, by being indebted to the public, be inca- 
pacitated for holding the office. The drawing soon after 
took place, and fortune, opposed to our welfare, caused 
Bernardo to be appointed for the months of September and 
October. Rinaldo immediately waited upon him, and inti- 
mated how much the party of the nobility, and all who 
wished for repose, rejoiced to find he had attained that dig- 
nity ; that it now rested with him to act in such a manner 
ias to realise their pleasing expectations. He then enlarged 
upon the danger of disunion, and endeavoured to show that 
there was no means of attaining the blessing of unity but by 
the destruction of Cosmo, for he alone, by the popularity 
(acquired with his enormous wealth, kept them depressed ; 
that he was already so powerful, that if not hindered, he 
'"would soon become prince, and that it was the part of a good 
citizen, in order to prevent such a calamity, to assemble the 
people in the piazza, and restore liberty to his country. 
Rinaldo then reminded the new Gonfalonier how Salvestro 
de' Medici was able, though unjustly, to restrain the power 
of the Guelphs, to whom, by the blood of their ancestors 
shed in its cause, the government rightly belonged ; and 
argued that what he was able unjustly to accomplish against 
so many, might surely be easily performed with justice in its 
favour against one ! He encouraged him with the assurance 
that their friends would be ready in arms to support him ; 
that he need not regard the plebeians, who adored Cosmo, 
since their assistance would be of no greater avail than 
Gii rgio Scalihad found it on a similar occasion; and that with 
regard to his wealth, no apprehension was necessary, for 
when he was under the power of the Signory, his riches 
would be so too. In conclusion, he averred that this course 
would unite and secure the republic, and crown the Gonfalo- 
nier with glory. Bernardo briefly replied, that he thought it 
necessary to act exactly as Rinaldo had advised, and that as 
the time was suitable for action, he should provide himself 

194 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. iv. ch. 6. a.d. 143." 

with forces, being assured from what Rinaldo had said, hi 
would be supported by his colleagues. 

Bernardo entered upon the duties of his office, prepare( 
his followers, nnd having concerted with Rinaldo, summonec 
Cosmo, who, though many friends dissuaded him from it 
obeyed the call, trusting more to his own innocence than tc 
the mercy of the Signory. As soon as he had entered the 
palace he was arrested. Rinaldo, with a great number m 
armed men, and accompanied by nearly the whole of his 
party, proceeded to the piazza, when the Signory assembled 
the people, and created a balia of two hundred persons for 
the reformation of the city. With the least possible delay 
they entered upon the consideration of reform, and of the 
life or death of Cosmo. Many wished him to be banished, 
others to be put to death, and several were silent, either from 
compassion towards him or for fear of the rest, so that these 
differences prevented them from coming to any conclusion. 

There is an apartment in the tower of the palace which 
occupies the whole of one floor, and is called the Al- 
berghettino, in which Cosmo was confined, under the charge 
of Federigo Malavolti. In this place, hearing the assembly 
of the Councils, the noise of arms which proceeded from the 
piazza, and the frequent ringing of the bell to assemble the 
balia, he was greatly apprehensive for his safety, but still 
more lest his private enemies should cause him to be put to 
death in some unusual manner. He scarcely took any food, 
so that in four days he ate only a small quantity of bread. 
Federigo, observing his anxiety, said to him, " Cosmo, you 
are afraid of being poisoned, and are evidently hastening 
your end with hunger. You wrong me if you think I would 
be a party to such an atrocious act. I do not imagine your 
life to be in much danger, since you have so many friends 
both within the palace and without; but if you should 
eventually lose it, be assured they will use some other 
medium than myself for that purpose, for I will never imbue 
my hands in the blood of any, still less in your's, who never 
injured me ; therefore cheer up, take some food, and preserve 
your life for your friends and your country. And that you 
may do so with greater assurance, I will partake of your 
meals with you." These words were a great relief to 

B. iv. ch. 7. a.d. 1433. COSMO BA^ISH^D. 195 

Cosmo, who, with tears in his eyes, embraced and kissed 
Federigo, earnestly thanking him for so kind and affection- 
ate conduct, and promising, if ever the opportunity were 
given him, he would not be ungrateful. 


Cosmo is banished to Padua — Rinaldo degli Albizzi attempts to restore 
the nobility — New disturbances occasioned by Rinaldo degli Albizzi — 
Rinaldo takes arms against the Signory — His designs are disconcerted — 
Pope Eugenius in Florence — He endeavours to reconcile the parties — 
Cosmo is recalled — Rinaldo and his party banished— Glorious return of 

Cosmo in some degree recovered his spirits, and whilst 
the citizens were disputing about him, Federigo, by way of 
recreation, brought an acquaintance of the Gonfalonier to 
take supper with him, an amusing and facetious person, 
whose name was II Farnagaccio. The repast being nearly 
over, Cosmo, who thought he might turn this visit to ad- 
vantage, for he knew the man very intimately, gave a sign to 
Federigo to leave the apartment, and he, guessing the cause, 
under pretence of going for something that was wanted on 
the table, left them together. Cosmo, after a few friendly 
expressions addressed to II Farnagaccio, gave him a small 
slip of paper, and desired him to go to the director of the 
hospital of Santa Maria Nuova, for one thousand one hundred 
ducats ; he was to take the hundred for himself, and carry 
the thousand to the Gonfalonier, and beg that he would 
take some suitable occasion of coming to see him. Far- 
nagaccio undertook the commission, the money was paid, 
Bernardo became more humane, and Cosmo was banished 
to Padua, contrary to the wish of Rinaldo, who earnestly de- 
sired his death. Averardo and many others of the house 
of Medici were also banished, and with them Puccio and 
Giovanni Pucci. To silence those who were dissatisfied 
with the banishment of Cosmo, they endowed with the 
power of a Balia, the Eight of War and the Capitano of 

o 2 

196 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. 7. a.d. 1433. 

the People. After his sentence, Cosmo, on the 3rd of Octo- 
ber, 1433, came before the Signory, by whom the boundary 
1x3 which he was restricted was specified ; and they advised 
him to avoid passing it, unless he wished them to proceed 
with greater severity both against himself and his property. 
Cosmo received his sentence with a cheerful look, assuring 
the Signory that wherever they determined to send him, he 
would willingly remain. He earnestly begged, that as they 
had preserved his life they would protect it, for he knew there 
were many in the piazza who were desirous to take it ; and 
assured them, that wherever he might be, himself and his 
means were entirely at the service of the city, the people, 
and the Signory. He was respectfully attended by the 
Gonfalonier, who retained him in the palace till night, then 
conducted him to his own house to supper, and caused him 
to be escorted by a strong armed force to his place of ba- 
nishment. Wherever the cavalcade passed, Cosmo was 
honourably received, and was publicly visited by the Vene- 
tians, not as an exile, but with all the respect due to one in 
the highest station. 

Florence, widowed of so great a citizen, one so generally 
beloved, seemed to be universally sunk in despondency ; 
victors and the vanquished were alike in fear. Rinaldo, as 
if inspired with a presage of his future calamities, in order 
not to appear deficient to himself or his party, assembled 
many citizens, his friends, and informed them that he fore- 
saw their approaching ruin for having allowed themselves 
to be overcome by the prayers, the tears, and the money of 
their enemies ; and that they did not seem aware they would 
soon themselves have to entreat and weep, when their prayers 
would not be listened to, or their tears excite compassion ; 
Aiid that of the money received, they would have to restore 
the principal, and pay the interest in tortures, exile, and 
death ; that it would have been much better for them to 
have done nothing than to have left Cosmo alive, and his 
friends in Florence ; for great offenders ought either to re- 
main untouched, or be destroyed ; that there was now no 
remedy but to strengthen themselves in the city, so that 
upon the renewed attempts of their enemies, which would 
soon take place, they might drive them out with arms, since 
they had not sufficient civil authority to expel them. The 

B. iv. ch. 7. a.d. 1434 ACCIAJUOLI EXILED. 197 

remedy to be adopted, he said, was one that he had long be- 
fore advocated, which was to regain the friendship of the 
grandees, restoring and conceding to them all the honours of 
the city, and thus make themselves strong with that party, 
since their adversaries had joined the plebeians. That by 
this means they would become the more powerful side, for 
they would possess greater energy, more comprehensive 
talent, and an augmented share of influence ; and that if 
this last and only remedy were not adopted, he knew not 
what other means could be made use of to preserve the go- 
vernment amongst so many enemies, or prevent their own 
ruin and that of the city. 

Mariotto Baldovinetti, one of the assembly, was opposed to 
this plan, on account of the pride and insupportable nature 
of the nobility ; and said, that it would be folly to place 
themselves again under such inevitable tyranny for the sake 
of avoiding imaginary dangers from the plebeians. Rinal- 
do, finding his advice unfavourably received, vexed at his 
own misfortune and that of his party, imputed the whole to 
heaven itself, which had resolved upon it, rather than to 
human ignorance and blunders. In this juncture of affairs, 
no remedial measure being attempted, a letter was found 
written by Agnolo Acciajuoli to Cosmo, acquainting him 
with the disposition of the city in his favour, and advising 
him, if possible, to excite a war, and gain the friendship of 
Neri di Gino ; for he imagined the city to be in want of 
money, and as she would not find any one to serve her, the 
remembrance of him w r ould be revived in the minds of the 
citizens, and they would desire his return ; and that if Neri 
were detached from Kinaldo, the party of the latter would be 
so weakened, as to be unable to defend themselves. This 
letter coming to the hands of the magistrates, Agnolo was 
taken, put to the torture, and sent into exile. This example, 
however, did not at all deter Cosmo's party. 

It was now almost a year since Cosmo had been banished, 
and the end of August, 1434, being come, Niccolo di Cocco 
was drawn Gonfalonier for the two succeeding months, and 
with him eight Signors, all partisans of Cosmo. This struck 
terror into Ilinaldo and his party ; and as it is usual for 
three days to elapse before the new Signory assume the ma- 
gistracy and the old resign their authority, Rinaldo again called 

198 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. iv. ch. 7. a.d. 1434. 

together the heads of his party. He endeavoured to show them 
their certain and immediate danger, and that their only- 
remedy was to take arms, and cause Donato Velluti, who 
was yet Gonfalonier, to assemble the people in the piazza 
and create a balia. He would then deprive the new Signory 
of the magistracy, appoint another, burn the present balloting 
purses, and by means of a new Squittini, provide themselves 
with friends. Many thought this course safe and requisite ; 
others, that it was too violent, and likely to be attended with 
great evil. Among those who disliked it was Palla Strozzi, 
a peaceable, gentle, and humane person, better adapted for 
literary pursuits than for restraining a party, or opposing 
civil strife. He said that bold and crafty resolutions seem 
promising at their commencement, but are afterwards found 
difficult to execute, and generally pernicious at their conclu- 
sion ; that he thought the fear of external wars (the duke's 
forces being upon the confines of Romagna,) would occupy 
the minds of the Signory more than internal dissensions ; 
but, still, if any attempt should be made, and it could not 
take place unnoticed, they would have sufficient time to take 
arms, and adopt whatever measures might be found necessary 
for the common good, which being done upon necessity, 
would occasion less excitement among the people and less 
danger to themselves. It was therefore concluded, that 
the new Signory should come in; that their proceedings 
should be watched, and if they were found attempting 
anything against the party, each should take arms, and meet 
in the piazza of San Pulinari, situated near the palace, and 
whence they might proceed wherever it was found necessary. 
Having come to this conclusion, Rinaldo's friends separated. 
The new Signory entered upon their office, and the Gon- 
falonier, in order to acquire reputation, and deter those who 
might intend to oppose him, sent Donato Velluti, his pre- 
decessor, to prison, upon the charge of having applied the 
public money to his own use. He then endeavoured to 
sound his colleagues with respect to Cosmo : seeing them 
desirous of his return, he communicated with the lead- 
ers of the Medici party, and, by their advice, summoned the 
hostile chiefs, Rinaldo degli Albizzi, Ridolfo Peruzzi, and 
Niccolo Barbadoro. After this citation, Rinaldo thought 
further delay would be dangerous ; he therefore left his house 

B. it. ch. 7. a.d. 1434. RINALDO's OPPOSITION. 199 

with a great number of armed men, and was soon joined by 
Ilidolfo Peruzzi and Niccolo Barbadoro. The force accom- 
panying them was composed of several citizens and a great 
number of disbanded soldiers then in Florence ; and all 
assembled according to appointment in the piazza of San 
Pulinari. Palla Strozzi and Giovanni Guicciardini, though 
each had assembled a large number of men, kept in their 
houses ; and therefore Rinaldo sent a messenger to request 
their attendance and to reprove their delay. Giovanni re- 
plied, that he should lend sufficient aid against their enemies, 
if by remaining at home he could prevent his brother Piero 
from going to the defence of the palace. After many mes- 
sages Palla came to San Pulinari on horseback, accompanied 
by two of his people on foot, and unarmed. Rinaldo, on 
meeting him, sharply reproved him for his negligence, declar- 
ing that his refusal to come with the others arose either from 
defect of principle or want of courage ; both which charges 
should be avoided by all who wished to preserve such a cha- 
racter as he had hitherto possessed; and that if he thought this 
abominable conduct to his party would induce their enemies, 
when victorious, to spare him from death or exile, he deceived 
himself; but for himself (Rinaldo), whatever might happen, he 
had the consolation of knowing, that previously to the crisis 
he had never neglected his duty in council, and that when it 
occurred he had used every possible exertion to repel it with 
arms ; but that Palla and the others would experience aggra- 
vated remorse when they considered they had upon three 
occasions betrayed their country ; first when they saved 
Cosmo ; next when they disregarded his advice ; and now the 
third time by not coming armed in her defence according to 
their engagement. To these reproaches Palla made no reply 
audible to those around, but, muttering something as he left 
them, returned to his house. 

The Signory, knowing Rinaldo and his party had taken 
arms, finding themselves abandoned, caused the palace to be 
shut up, and having no one to consult they knew not what 
course to adopt. However, Rinaldo, by delaying his coming 
to the piazza, having waited in expectation of forces which 
did not join him, lost the opportunity of victory, gave them 
courage to provide for their defence, and allowed many others 
to join them, who advised that means should be used to 

200 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. rv. ch 7. ad. 1434. 

induce their adversaries to lay down their arms. Thereupon, 
some of the least suspected, went on the part of the Signory 
to Rinaldo, and said, they did not know what occasion they 
had given his friends for thus assembling in arms ; that they 
never had any intention of offending him ; and if they had 
spoken of Cosmo, they had no design of recalling him ; 
so if their fears were thus occasioned they might at once be 
dispelled, for that if they came to the palace, they would be 
graciously received, and all their complaints attended to. 
These words produced no change in Rinaldo' s purpose ; he 
bade them provide for their safety by resigning their offices, 
and said that then the government of the city would be re- 
organized, for the mutual benefit of all. 

It rarely happens, where authorities are equal and opinions 
contrary, that any good resolution is adopted. Ridolfo 
Peruzzi, moved by the discourse of the citizens, said, that all 
he desired was to prevent the return of Cosmo, and this 
being granted to them seemed a sufficient victory ; nor would 
he, to obtain a greater, fill the city with blood ; he would 
therefore obey the Signory ; and accordingly went with his 
people to the palace, where he was received with a hearty 
welcome. Thus Rinaldo's delay at San Pulinari, Palla's 
want of courage, and Ridolfo' s desertion, deprived their party 
of all chance of success ; whilst the ardour of the citizens 
abated, and the pope's authority did not contribute to its 

Pope Eugenius was at this time at Florence, having been 
driven from Rome by the people. These disturbances coming 
to his knowledge, be thought it a duty suitable to his pastoral 
office to appease them, and sent the patriarch Giovanni 
Vitelleschi, Rinaldo's most intimate friend, to entreat the 
latter to come to an interview with him, as he trusted he had 
sufficient influence with the Signory to ensure his safety and 
satisfaction, without injury or bloodshed to the citizens. By 
his friend's persuasion, Rinaldo proceeded with all his fol- 
lowers to Santa Maria Nuova, where the pope resided. 
Eugenius gave him to understand, that the Signory had em- 
powered him to settle the differences between them, and that 
all would be arranged to his satisfaction if he laid down his 
arms. Rinaldo, having witnessed Palla's want of zeal, and 
the fickleness of Ridolfo Peruzzi, and no better course being 

B. it. ch. 7. a.d. 1434. BINALB0 BANISHED. 201 

open to him, placed himself in the pope's hands, thinking 
that at all events the authority of his holiness would ensure 
his safety. Eugenius then sent word to Niccolo Barbadoro, 
and the rest who remained without, that they were to lay 
down their arms, for Rinaldo was remaining with the 
pontiff, to arrange terms of agreement with the Signors ; ' 
upon which they immediately dispersed, and laid aside their 

The Signory, seeing their adversaries disarmed, continued 
to negotiate an arrangement by means of the pope ; but at 
the same time sent secretly to the mountains of Pistoia for 
infantry, which, with what other forces they could collect, 
were brought into Florence by night. Having taken posses- 
sion of all the strong positions in the city, they assembled the 
people in the piazza and created a new balia, which, without 
delay, restored Cosmo and those who had been exiled with 
him to their country ; and banished, of the opposite party, 
Rinaldo degli Albizzi, Ridolfo Peruzzi, Niccolo Barbadoro, 
and Palla Strozzi, with so many other citizens, that there 
were few places in Italy which did not contain some, and 
many others beyond her limits were full of them. By this 
and similar occurrences, Florence was deprived of men of 
worth, and of much wealth and industry. 

The pope, seeing such misfortunes befall those who by 
his entreaties were induced to lay down their arms, was 
greatly dissatisfied, and condoled with Rinaldo on the in- 
juries he had received through his confidence in him, but 
advised him to be patient, and hope for some favourable turn 
of fortune. Rinaldo replied, " The want of confidence in 
those who ought to have trusted me, and the great trust I 
have reposed in you, have ruined both me and my party. 
But I blame myself principally for having thought that you, 
who were expelled from your own country, could preserve me 
in mine. I have had sufficient experience of the freaks of 
fortune ; and as I have never trusted greatly to prosperity, I 
shall suffer less inconvenience from adversity ; and I know 
that when she pleases she can become more favourable. But 
if she should never change, I shall not be very desirous of 
living in a city in which individuals are more powerful than 
the laws ; for that country alone is desirable in which pro- 
perty and friends may be safely enjoyed, not one where they 

202 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. v. ch. 1. a.d. 1434. 

may easily be taken from us, and where friends, from fear of 
losing their property, are compelled to abandon each other in 
their greatest need. Besides, it has always been less painful 
to good men to hear of the misfortunes of their country than 
to witness them ; and an honourable exile is always held in 
greater esteem than slavery at home." He then left the 
pope, and, full of indignation, blaming himself, his own mea- 
sures, and the coldness of his friends, went into exile. 

Cosmo, on the other hand, being informed of his recall, 
returned to Florence ; and it has seldom occurred that any 
citizen, coming home triumphant from victory, was received 
by so vast a concourse of people, or such unqualified demon- 
strations of regard as he was upon his return from banish- 
ment ; for by universal consent he was hailed as the bene- 
factor of the people, and the father of his country. 



The vicissitudes of empires— The state of Italy — The military factions 
of Sforza and Braccio — The Bracceschi and the Sforzeschi attack the 
pope, who is expelled by the Romans — War between the pope and the 
duke of Milan — The Florentines and the Venetians assist the pope — 
Peace between the pope and the duke of Milan — Tyranny practised 
by the party favourable to the Medici. 

It may be observed, that provinces amid the vicissitudes to 
which they are subject, pass from order into confusion, and 
afterwards recur to a state of order again ; for the nature of 
mundane affairs not allowing them to continue in an even 
course, when they have arrived at their greatest perfection, 
they soon begin to decline. In the same manner, having 
been reduced by disorder, and sunk to their utmost state of 
depression, unable to descend lower, they, of necessity, 
re-ascend; and thus from good they gradually decline to 
evil, and from evil again return to good. The reason is, that 1434. STATE OF ITALY. 203 

valour produces peace ; peace, repose ; repose, disorder ; dis- 
order, ruin ; so from disorder order springs ; from order vir- 
tue, and from this, glory and good fortune. Hence, wise men 
have observed, that the age of literary excellence is subse- 
quent to that of distinction in arms ; and that in cities and 
provinces, great warriors are produced before philosophers. 
Arms having secured victory, and victory peace, the buoyant 
vigour of the martial mind cannot be enfeebled by a more ex- 
cusable indulgence than that of letters ; nor can indolence, 
with any greater or more dangerous deceit, enter a well regu- 
lated community. Cato was aware of this when the philo- 
sophers, Diogenes and Carneades, were sent ambassadors to 
the senate by the Athenians ; for, perceiving with what 
earnest admiration the Roman youth began to follow them, 
and knowing the evils that might result to his country from 
this specious idleness, he enacted that no philosopher should 
be allowed to enter Rome. Provinces by this means sink 
to ruin, from which, men's sufferings having made them 
wiser, they again recur to order, if they be not overwhelmed 
by some extraordinary force. These causes made Italy, first 
under the ancient Tuscans, and afterwards under the Ro- 
mans, by turns happy and unhappy ; and although nothing 
has subsequently arisen from the ruins of Rome at all cor- 
responding to her ancient greatness (which under a well- 
organized monarchy might have been gloriously effected), 
still there was so much bravery and intelligence in some of 
the new cities and governments that afterwards sprang up, 
that although none ever acquired dominion over the rest, 
they were, nevertheless, so balanced and regulated amongst 
themselves, as to enable them to live in freedom, and defend 
their country from the barbarians. 

Among these governments, the Florentines, although they 
possessed a smaller extent of territory, were not inferior to 
any in power and authority ; for being situated in the mid- 
dle of Italy, wealthy, and prepared for action, they either 
defended themselves against such as thought proper to assail 
them, or decided victory in favour of those to whom they 
became allies. From the valour, therefore, of these new 
governments, if no seasons occurred of long-continued peace, 
neither were any exposed to the calamities of war ; for that 
cannot be called peace in which states frequently assail each 

204 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. v. ch. 1. a.d. 1434 

other with arms, nor can those be considered wars in which 
no men are slain, cities plundered, or sovereignties overthrown; 
for the practice of arms fell into such a state of decay, that 
wars were commenced without fear, continued without 
danger, and concluded without loss. Thus the military 
energy which is in other countries exhausted by a long 
peace, was wasted in Italy by the contemptible manner in 
which hostilities were carried on, as will be clearly seen in 
the events to be described from 1434 to 1494, from which it 
will appear how the barbarians were again admitted into 
Italy, and she again sunk under subjection to them. Although 
the transactions of our princes at home and abroad will not 
be viewed with admiration of their virtue and greatness like 
those of the ancients, perhaps they may on other accounts 
be regarded with no less interest, seeing what masses of 
high spirited people were kept in restraint by such weak 
and disorderly forces. And if, in detailing the events which 
took place in this wasted world, we shall not have to record 
the bravery of the soldier, the prudence of the general, or the 
patriotism of the citizen, it will be seen with what artifice, de- 
ceit, and cunning, princes, warriors, and leaders of republics 
conducted themsslves, to support a reputation they never 
deserved. This, perhaps, will not be less useful than a know- 
ledge of ancient history ; for, if the latter excites the liberal 
mind to imitation, the former will show what ought to be 
avoided and decried. 

Italy was reduced to such a condition by her rulers, that 
when, by consent of her princes, peace was restored, it 
w'as soon disturbed by those who retained their armies, so 
that glory was not gained by war nor repose by peace. 
Thus when the league and the duke of Milan agreed to 
lay aside their arms in 1433, the soldiers, resolved upon 
war, directed their efforts against the church. There were 
at this time two factions or armed parties in Italy, the Brac- 
cesca and the Sforzesca. The leader of the former was the 
Count Francesco, the son of Sforza, and of the latter, Xic- 
colo Piccinino and Niccolo Fortebraccio. Under the banner 
of one or other of these parties almost all the forces of 
Italy were assembled. Of the two, the Sforzesca w r as in 
greatest repute, as well from the bravery of the count him- 
self, as from the promise which the duke of Milan had made 


ch. 1. a.d. 1434. EXPULSION OF THE POPE. 

him of his natural daughter, Madonna Bianca, the pros- 
pect of which alliance greatly strengthened his influence. 
After the peace of Lombardy, these forces, from various 
causes, attacked Pope Eugenius. Niccolo Fortebraccio was 
instigated by the ancient emnity which Braccio had always 
entertained against the church ; the count was induced by 
ambition ; so that Niccolo assailed Rome, and the count took 
possession of La Marca. 

The Romans, in order to avoid the war, drove Pope Euge- 
nius from their city ; and he, having with difficulty escaped, 
came to Florence, where seeing the imminent danger of his 
situation, being abandoned by the princes (for they were un- 
willing again to take up arms in his cause, after having 
been so anxious to lay them aside), he came to terms with 
the count, and ceded to him the sovereignty of La Marca, 
although, to the injury of having occupied it, he had added 
insult ; for in signing the place, from which he addressed 
letters to his agents, he said in Latin, according to the Italian 
custom, Ex Girfalco nostro Firmiano, invito Petro et Paulo. 
Neither was he satisfied with this concession, but insisted 
upon being appointed Gonfalonier of the church, which was 
also granted ; so much more was Eugenius alarmed at the 
prospect of a dangerous war than of an ignominious peace. 
The count, having thus been reconciled to the pontiff, attacked 
Niccolo Fortebraccio, and during many months various en- 
counters took place between them, from all which greater 
injury resulted to the pope and his subjects, than to either of 
the belligerents. At length, by the intervention of the duke 
of Milan, an arrangement, by way of a truce, was made, 
by which both became princes in the territories of the 

The war thus extinguished at Rome was rekindled in 
Romagna by Batista da Canneto, who at Bologna slew some 
of the family of the Grifoni, and expelled from the city the 
governor who resided there for the pope, along with others 
who were opposed to him. To enable himself to retain the 
government, he applied for assistance to Filippo, and the 
pope, to avenge himself for the injury, sought the aid of the 
Venetians and Florentines. Both parties obtained assistance, 
so that very soon two large armies were on foot in Romagna. 
Niccolo Piccinino commanded for the duke, Gattamelata and 

206 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. v. ch. 1. a.d. 1434. 

Niccolo da Tolentino for the Venetians and Florentines. 
They met near Imola, where a battle ensued, in which the 
Florentines and Venetians were routed, and Niccolo da 
Tolentino was sent prisoner to Milan, where, either through 
grief for his loss or by some unfair means, he died in a few 

The duke, on this victory, either being exhausted by the 
late wars, or thinking the League after their defeat would not 
be in haste to resume hostilities, did not pursue his good 
fortune, and thus gave the pope and his colleagues time to 
recover themselves. They therefore appointed the Count 
Francesco for their leader, and undertook to drive Niccolo 
Fortebraccio from the territories of the church, and thus 
terminate the war which had been commenced in favour of 
the pontiff. The Romans, finding the pope supported by so 
large an army, sought a reconciliation with him, and being 
successful, admitted his commissary into the city. Among 
the places possessed by Niccolo Fortebraccio, were Tivoli, 
Montefiascone, Citta di Castello, and Ascesi, to the last of 
which, not being able to keep the field, he fled, and the 
count besieged him there. Niccolo' s brave defence making 
it probable that the war would be of considerable duration, 
the duke deemed it necessary to prevent the League from 
obtaining the victory, and said that if this were not effected 
he would very soon have to look to the defence of his own 
territories. Resolving to divert the count from the siege, he 
commanded Niccolo Piccinino to pass into Tuscany by way 
of Romagna ; and the League, thinking it more important to 
defend Tuscany than to occupy Ascesi, ordered the count to 
prevent the passage of Niccolo, who was already, with his 
army, at Furli. The count accordingly moved with his 
forces, and came to Cesena, having left the war of La Marca 
and the care of his own territories to his brother Lione ; and 
while Niccolo Piccinino was endeavouring to pass by, and 
the count to prevent him, Fortebraccio attacked Lione with 
great bravery, made him prisoner, routed his forces, and 
pursuing the advantage of his victory, at once possessed 
himself of many places in La Marca. This circumstance 
greatly perplexed the count, who thought he had lost all his 
territories ; so, leaving part of his force to check Piccinino, 
with the remainder he pursued Fortebraccio, whom he 

B. v. ch. 1. a. d. 1434. PRISONERS BEHEADED. 207 

attacked and conquered. Fortebraccio was taken prisoner 
in the battle, and soon after died of his wounds. This 
victory restored to the pontiff all the places that had been 
taken from him by Fortebraccio, and compelled the duke of 
Milan to sue for peace, which was concluded by the inter- 
cession of Niccolo da Este, marquis of Ferrara ; the duke 
restoring to the church the places he had taken from her, 
and his forces retiring into Lombardy. Battista da Can- 
neto, as is the case with all who retain authority only 
by the consent and forces of another, when the duke's people 
had quitted Romagna, unable with his own power to keep 
possession of Bologna, fled, and Antonio Bentivogli, the 
head of the opposite party, returned to his country. 

All this took place during the exile of Cosmo, after whose 
return, those who had restored him, and a great number of 
persons injured by the opposite party, resolved at all events 
to make themselves sure of the government ; and the Signory 
for the months of November and December, not content with 
what their predecessors had done in favour of their party, 
extended the term and changed the residences of several who 
were banished, and increased the number of exiles. In 
addition to these evils, it was observed that citizens were 
more annoyed on account of their wealth, their family con- 
nexions or private animosities, than for the sake of the party to 
which they adhered, so that if these proscriptions had been 
accompanied with bloodshed, they would have resembled 
those of Octavius and Sylla, though in reality they were not 
without some stains ; for Antonio di Bernardo Guadagni was 
beheaded, and four other citizens, amongst whom were 
Zanobi dei Belfratelli and Cosmo Barbadori, passing the 
confines to which they were limited, proceeded to Venice, 
when the Venetians, valuing the friendship of Cosmo de''' 
Medici more than their own honour, sent them prisoners to 
him, and they were basely put to death. This circumstance 
greatly increased the influence of that party, and struck their 
enemies with terror, rinding that such a powerful republic 
would so humble itself to the Florentines. This, however, 
was supposed to have been done, not so much out of kindness 
to Cosmo, as to excite dissensions in Florence, and by means 
of bloodshed make greater certainty of division amongst 
the citizens, for the Venetians knew there was no other 

208 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. v. ch. 1. a.d. 1435. 

obstacle to their ambition so great as the union of her 

The city being cleared of the enemies, or suspected enemies 
of the state, those in possession of the government now 
began to strengthen their party by conferring benefits upon 
such as were in a condition to serve them, and the family of 
the Alberti, with all who had been banished by the former 
government, were recalled. All the nobility, with few ex- 
ceptions, were reduced to the ranks of the people, and the 
possessions of the exiles were divided amongst themselves, 
upon each paying a small acknowledgment. They then 
fortified themselves with new laws and provisos, made new 
Squittini, withdrawing the names of their adversaries from 
the purses, and filling them with those of their friends. 
Taking advice from the ruin of their enemies, they con- 
sidered that to allow the great offices to be filled by mere 
chance of drawing, did not afford the government sufficient 
security, they therefore resolved that the magistrates pos- 
se-sin^ the power of life and death should always be chosen 
from amongst the leaders of their own party, and therefore 
that the Accoppiatori, or persons selected for the imborsation 
of the new Squittini, with the Signory who had to retire 
from office, should make the new appointments. They gave 
to eight of the guard authority to proceed capitally, and pro- 
vided that the exiles, when their term of banishment was 
complete, should not be allowed to return, unless from the 
Signory and Colleagues, which were thirty-seven in number, 
the consent of thirty-four were obtained. It was made 
unlawful to write to or to receive letters from them ; every 
word, sign, or action that gave offence to the ruling party 
was punished with the utmost rigour ; and if there was 
still in Florence any suspected person whom these regula- 
tions did not reach, he was oppressed with taxes imposed 
for the occasion. Thus in a short time, having expelled or 
impoverished the whole of the adverse party, they established 
themselves firmly in the government. Not to be destitute of 
external assistance, and to deprive others of it, who might 
use it against themselves, they entered into a league, 
offensive and defensive, with the pope, the Venetians, and 
the duke of Milan. 

BLt.oh. 2. a.d. 1435. DEATH OF GIOVANNA II. 



Death of Giovanna II. — Rene of Anjou and Alfonzo of Arragon aspire to 
the kingdom — Alfonzo is routed and taken by the Genoese — Alfonzo 
being a prisoner of the duke of Milan, obtains his friendship — The 
Genoese disgusted with the duke of Milan — Divisions amongst the 
Genoese — The Genoese, by means of Francesco Spinola, expel the 
duke's governor — League against the duke of Milan— Rinaldo degli 
Albizzi advises the duke to make war against the Florentines — His dis- 
■ to the duke — The duke adopts measures injurious to the Flo- 
rentines— Niccolo Piccinino appointed to command the duke's forces — 
Preparations of the Florentines — Piccinino routed before Barga. 

The affairs of Florence being in this condition, Giovanna, 
queen of Naples, died, and by her will appointed Rene of 
Anjou to be her successor. Alfonso, king of Arragon, was 
at this time in Sicily, and having obtained the concurrence of 
many barons, prepared to take possession of the kingdom. 
The Neapolitans, with whom a great number of barons were 
also associated, favoured Rene. The pope was unwilling that 
either of them should obtain it ; but desired the affairs of 
Naples to be administered by a governor of his own ap- 

In the meantime Alfonzo entered the kingdom, and was 
received by the duke of Sessa ; he brought with him some 
princes, whom he had engaged in his service, with the design 
(already possessing Capua, which the prince of Taranto held 
in his name) of subduing the Neapolitans, and sent his fleet 
to attack Gaeta, which had declared itself in their favour. 
They therefore demanded assistance of the duke of Milan, 
who persuaded the Genoese to undertake their defence ; and 
they, to satisfy the duke their sovereign, and protect the mer- 
chandize they possessed, both at Naples and Gaeta, armed a 
powerful fleet. Alfonso hearing of this, augmented his own 
naval force, went in person to meet the Genoese, and coming 
up with them near the island of Ponzio, an engagement en- 
sued, in which the Arragonese were defeated, and Alfonso, 
with many of the princes of his suit, made prisoners, and 
sent by the Genoese to Filippo. 

This victory terrified the princes of Italy, who, being 
jealous of the duke's ■power, thought it would give him a 


210 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. v. ch. 2. a.d. UM 

groat opportunity of becoming sovereign of the whole 
country. But so contrary are the views of men, that he 
took a directly opposite course. Alfonso was a man of greal 
sagacity, and as soon as an opportunity presented itself oJ 
communicating with Filippo, he proved to him how com- 
pletely he contravened his own interests, by favouring Rene 
and opposing himself; for it would be the business of the 
former, on becoming king of Naples, to introduce the French 
into Milan ; that in an emergency he might have assistance 
at hand, without the necessity of having to solicit a passage 
for his friends. But he could not possibly secure this ad- 
vantage without effecting the ruin of the duke, and making 
his dominions a French province ; and that the contrary oi 
all this would result from himself becoming lord of Naples ; 
for having only the French to fear, he would be compelled to 
love and caress, nay even to obey, those who had it in their 
power to open a passage for his enemies. That thus the title 
of king of Naples would be with himself (Alfonso), but the 
power and authority with Filippo ; so that it was much more 
the duke's business than his own to consider the danger of 
one course and the advantage of the other ; unless he rather 
wished to gratify his private prejudices, than to give security 
to his dominions. In the one case he would be a free prince, 
in the other, placed between two powerful sovereigns, he 
would either be robbed of his territories or live in constant 
fear, and have to obey them like a slave. These arguments 
so greatly influenced the duke, that, changing his design, 
he set Alfonso at liberty, sent him honourably to Genoa and 
then to Naples. From thence the king went to Gaeta, which, 
as soon as his liberation had become known, was taken pos- 
session of by some nobles of his party. 

The Genoese, seeing that the duke, without the least regard 
for them, had liberated the king, and gained credit to himself 
through the dangers and expense which they had incurred ; 
that he enjoyed all the honour of the liberation, and they 
were themselves exposed to the odium of the capture, and 
the injuries consequent upon the king's defeat, were greatly 
exasperated. In the city of Genoa, while in the enjoyment 
of her liberty, a magistrate is created with the consent of the 
people, whom they call the Doge ; not that he is absolutely 
a prince, or that he alone has the power of determining 

2. ad. 1435. AFFAIRS OF GENOA. 211 

matters of government ; but that, as the head of the state, he 
I proposes those questions or subjects which have to be con- 
sidered and determined by the magistrates and the councils. 
In that city are many noble families so powerful, that they are 
with great difficulty induced to submit to the authority of the 
law. Of these, the most powerful are the Fregosa and the 
Adorna, from whom arise the dissensions of the city, and 
the impotence of her civil regulations ; for the possession of 
this high office being contested by means inadmissible in 
well-regulated communities, and most commonly with arms 
I in their hands, it always occurs that one party is oppressed 
!. and the other triumphant ; and sometimes those who fail in 
.the pursuit have recourse to the arms of strangers, and the 
country they are not allowed to rule they subject to foreign 
! authority. Hence it happens, that those who govern in Lom- 
»bardy most commonly command in Genoa, as occurred at 
I the time Alfonso of Arragon was made prisoner. Among 
jithe leading Genoese who had been instrumental in subjecting 
the republic to Filippo, was Francesco Spinola, who, soon 
j ifter he had reduced his country to bondage, as always 
[lappens in such cases, became suspected by the duke. In- 
dignant at this, he withdrew to a sort of voluntary exile at 
[Gaeta, and being there when the naval expedition was in 
preparation, and having conducted himself with great bravery 
in the action, he thought he had again merited so mUch of 
Jae duke's confidence as would obtain for him permission to 
remain undisturbed at Genoa. But the duke still retained 
lis suspicions ; for he could not believe that a vacillating 
defender of his own country's liberty would be faithful to 
limself ; and Francesco Spinola resolved again to try his 
'ortune, and if possible restore freedom to his country, and 
nonourable safety to himself ; for he saw there was no pro- 
lability of regaining the forfeited affection of his fellow 
itizcns, but by resolving at his own peril to remedy the mis- 
fortunes which he had been so instrumental in producing. 
Finding the indignation against the duke universal, on ac- 
30unt of the liberation of the king, he thought the moment 
iropitious for the execution of his design. He communicated 
us ideas to some whom he knew to be similarly inclined, 
ind his arguments ensured their co-operation. 
The great festival of St. John the Baptist being come, 
p 2 

212 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. v. en. 2. a.d. 143 

when Arismeno, the new governor sent by the duke, was t 
enter Genoa, and he being already arrived, accompanied b 
Opicino, the former governor, and many Genoese citizens 
Francesco Spinola thought further delay improper ; anc 
issuing from his house with those acquainted with his desigr 
all armed, they raised the cry of liberty. It was wonderft 
to see how eagerly the citizens and people assembled at th 
word ; so that those who for any reason might be favourable 
to Filippo, not only had no time to arm, but scarcely to 
consider the means of escape. Arismeno, with some Genoese 
fled to the fortress which was held for the duke. Opicino 
thinking that if he could reach the palace, where two thousam- 
men were in arms, and at his command, he might be abL 
either to effect his own safety, or induce his friends to defenc 
themselves, took that direction ; but before he arrived at th( 
piazza he was slain, his body divided into many pieces anc 
scattered about the city. The Genoese having placed the 
government in the hands of free magistrates, in a few days 
recovered the castle, and the other strongholds possessed bj 
the duke, and delivered themselves entirely from his yoke. 

These transactions, though at first they had alarmed the 
princes of Italy with the apprehension that the duke would 
become too powerful, now gave them hope, seeing the turn 
they had taken, of being able to restrain him ; and. notwith- 
standing the recent league, the Florentines and Venetians 
entered into alliance with the Genoese. Rinaldo degli 
Albizzi and the other leading Florentine exiles, observing 
the altered aspect of affairs, conceived hopes of being able 
to induce the duke to make war against Florence, and 
having arrived at Milan, Rinaldo addressed him in the fol- 
lowing manner : — " If we, who were once your enemies, 
come now confidently to supplicate your assistance to enable 
us to return to our country, neither you, nor any one, who 
considers the course and vicissitudes of human affairs, can be 
at all be surprised ; for of our past conduct towards yourself 
and our present intentions towards our country, we can adduce 
palpable and abundant reasons. No good man will ever 
reproach another who endeavours to defend his country, 
whatever be his mode of doing so ; neither have we had 
any design of injuring you, but only to preserve our 
country from detriment ; and we appeal to yourself, whether, 

B v CM.2. a.d. 1435. RIXALDO'S ADTICE. 213 

during the greatest victories of our league, when you were 
really desirous of peace, we were not even more anxious for 
it than yourself; so that we do not think we have done aught 
to make us despair altogether of favour from you. Nor can our 
country itself complain, that we now exhort you to use those 
arms against her, from which we have so pertinaciously de- 
fended her ; for that state alone merits the love of all her 
citizens, which cares with equal affection for all ; not one 
that favours a few, and casts from her the great mass of her 
children. Nor are the arms that men use against their coun- 
try to be universally condemned ; for communities, although 
composed of many, resemble individual bodies; and as 
in these, many infirmities arise which cannot be cured with- 
out the application of fire or of steel, so in the former, there 
often occur such numerous and great evils, that a good and 
merciful citizen, when there is a necessity for the sword, 
would be much more to blame in leaving her uncured, 
than by using this remedy for her preservation. What 
greater disease can afflict a republic than slavery ? and what 
remedy is more desirable for adoption than the one by 
which alone it can be effectually removed? No wars are 
just but those that are necessary ; and force is merciful when 
it presents the only hope of relief. I know not what neces- 
sity can be greater than ours, or what compassion can ex- 
ceed that which rescues our country from slavery. Our cause 
is therefore just, and our purpose merciful, as both yourself 
and we may be easily convinced. The amplest justice is on your 
side ; for the Florentines have not hesitated, after a peace 
concluded with so much solemnity, to enter into league with 
those -who have rebelled against you ; so that if our cause is 
insufficient to excite you against them, let your own just in- 
dignation do so ; and the more so, seeing the facility of the 
undertaking. You need be under no apprehension from the 
memory of the past, in which you may have observed the 
power of that people, and their pertinacity in self-defence ; 
though these might reasonably excite fear, if they were still 
animated by the valour of former times. But now, all is 
entirely the reverse ; for what power can be expected in a 
city that has recently expelled the greatest part of her 
wealth and industry ? What indomitable resolution need be 
apprehended from the people whom so many and such recent 

214 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. v. ch. 2. A. d. 14* 

enmities have disunited ? The disunion which still prevail 
will prevent wealthy citizens advancing money as they usee 
to do on former occasions ; for though men willingly contri . 
bute according to their means, when they see their own credit 
glory, and private advantage dependent upon it, or whei 
there is a hope of regaining in peace what has been spen 
in war, but not when equally oppressed under all circum- 
stances, — when in war they suffer the injuries of the enemy 
and in peace, the insolence of those who govern them. Besides 
this, the people feel more deeply the avarice of their rulers. 
than the rapacity of the enemy; for there is hope of being 
ultimately relieved from the latter evil, but none from the 
former. Thus, in the last war, you had to contend with the 
whole city ; but now with only a small portion. You at- 
tempted to take the government from many good citizens ; 
but now you oppose only a few bad ones. You then endea 
voured to deprive a city of her liberty, now you come to 
restore it. As it is unreasonable to suppose that under 
such disparity of circumstances, the result should be the 
same, you have now every reason to anticipate an easy vic- 
tory ; and how much it will strengthen your own govern- 
ment, you may easily judge ; having Tuscany friendly, and 
bound by so powerful an obligation, in your enterprises, she 
will be even of more service to you than Milan. And, although, 
on former occasions, such an acquisition might be looked 
upon as ambitious and unwarrantable, it will now be con- 
sidered merciful and just. Then do not let this opportunity 
escape, and be assured, that although your other attempts 
against the city have been attended with difficulty, expense, 
and disgrace, this will with facility procure you incalculable 
advantage and an honourable renown." 

Many words were not requisite to induce the duke to hos- 
tilities against the Florentines, for he was incited to it by 
hereditary hatred and blind ambition, and still more, by the 
fresh injuries which the league with the Genoese involved ; 
yet his past expenses, the dangerous measures necessary, the 
remembrance of his recent losses, and the vain hopes of the 
exiles, alarmed him. As soon as he had learned the revolt 
of Genoa, he ordered Niccolo Piccinino to proceed thither 
with all his cavalry and whatever infantry he could raise, 
for the purpose of recovering her, before the citizens had 

n v , H . 2. a. d. 1436. NICCOLO PICCININO. 215 

time to become settled and establish a government ; for he 
trusted greatly in the fortress within the city, which was held 
for him. And although Niccolo drove the Genoese from the 
mountains, took from them the valley of Pozeveri, where 
they had entrenched themselves, and obliged them to seek 
refuge within the walls of the city, he still found such an in- 
surmountable obstacle in the resolute defence of the citizens, 
that he was compelled to withdraw. On this, at the sugges- 
tion of the Florentine exiles, he commanded Niccolo to attack 
them on the eastern side, upon the confines of Pisa in the 
Genoese territory, and to push the war with his utmost 
vigour, thinking this plan would manifest and develop the 
course best to be adopted. Niccolo therefore besieged and 
took Serezana, and having committed great ravages, by way of 
further alarming the Florentines he proceeded to Lucca, spread- 
ing a report that it was his intention to go to Naples to render 
assistance to the king of Arragon. Upon these new events Pope 
Eugenius left Florence and proceeded to Bologna, where he 
endeavoured to effect an amicable arrangement between the 
league and the duke, intimating to the latter, that if he would 
not consent to some treaty, the pontiff must send Francesco 
Sforza to assist the league, for the latter was now his confede- 
rate, and served in his pay. Although the pope greatly exerted 
himself in this affair, his endeavours were unavailing ; for the 
duke would not listen to any proposal that did not leave him 
the possession of Genoa, and the league had resolved that 
she should remain free ; and, therefore, each party, having 
no other resource, prepared to continue the war. 

In the meantime Niccolo Piccinino arrived at Lucca, and 
the Florentines, being doubtful what course to adopt, ordered 
Neri di Gino to lead their forces into the Pisan territory, 
induced the pontiff to allow Count Francesco to join him, 
and with their forces they halted at San Gonda. Piccinino 
then demanded admission into the kingdom of Naples, and 
this being refused, he threatened to force a passage. The 
armies were equal, both in regard of numbers and the 
capacity of their leaders, and unwilling to tempt fortune 
during the bad weather, it being the month of December, 
they remained several days without attacking each other. 
The first movement was made by Niccolo Piccinino, who being 
informed that if he attacked Vico Pisano by night, he could 

216 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. a.d. Ii3ft 

easily take possession of the place, made the attempt, and 
having failed, ravaged the surrounding country, and then 
burned and plundered the town of San Giovanni alia Vena. 
This enterprise, though of little consequence, excited him 
to make further attempts, the more so from being assured 
that the count and Neri were yet in their quarters, and he 
attacked Santa Maria in Castello and Filetto, both which 
places he took. Still the Florentine forces would not stir ; 
not that the count entertained any fear, but because, out of 
regard to the pope, who still laboured to effect an accommo- 
dation, the government of Florence had deferred giving their 
final consent to the war. This course, which the Florentines 
adopted from prudence, was considered by the enemy to be 
only the result of timidity, and with increased boldness they 
led their forces up to Barga, which they resolved to besiege. 
This new attack made the Florentines set aside all other 
considerations, and resolve not only to relieve Barga, but to 
invade the Lucchese territory. Accordingly the count pro- 
ceeded in pursuit of Niccolo, and coming up with him before 
Barga, an engagement took place, in which Piccinino was 
overcome, and compelled to raise the siege. 

The Venetians, considering the duke to have broken the 
peace, sent Giovan Francesco da Gonzaga, their captain, to 
Ghiaradadda, who, by severely wasting the duke's territories, 
induced him to recall Niccolo Piccinino from Tuscany. This 
circumstance, together with the victory obtained over Niccolo, 
emboldened the Florentines to attempt the recovery of 
Lucca, since the duke, whom alone they feared, was engaged 
with the Venetians, and the Lucchese having received the 
enemy into their city, and allowed him to attack them, would 
have no ground of complaint. 

B. a.d.1437. WAR WITH LUCCA. 217 


The Florentines go to war with Lucca — Discourse of a citizen of Lucca to 
animate the plebeians against the Florentines — The Lucchese resolve to 
defend themselves — They are assisted by the duke of Milan — Treaty 
between the Florentines and the Venetians —Francesco Sforza, cap- 
tain of the league, refuses to cross the Po in the service of the Ve- 
netians and returns to Tuscany — The bad faith of the Venetians to- 
wards the Florentines — Cosmo de' Medici at Venice — Peace between 
the Florentines and the Lucchese — The Florentines effect a reconcili- 
ation between the pope and the Count di Poppi — The pope consecrates 
the church of Santa Reparata — Council of Florence. 

The count commenced operations against Lucca in April, 
1437, and the Florentines, desirous of recovering what they 
had themselves lost before they attacked others, retook 
Santa Maria in Castello, and all the places which Piccinino 
had occupied. Then, entering the Lucchese territory, they 
besieged Camaiore, the inhabitants of which, although faith- 
ful to their rulers, being influenced more by immediate 
danger than by attachment to their distant friends, surren- 
dered. In the same manner, they obtained Massa and Sere- 
zana. Towards the end of May they proceeded in the 
direction of Lucca, burning the towns, destroying the grow- 
ing crops, grain, trees, and vines, driving away the cattle, and 
leaving nothing undone to injure the enemy. The Lucchese, 
finding themselves abandoned by the duke, and hopeless of 
defending the open country, forsook it ; entrenched and 
fortified the city, which they doubted not, being well garri- 
soned, they would be able to defend for a time, and that, in 
the interim, some event would occur for their relief, as had 
been the case during the former wars which the Florentines 
had carried on against them. Their only apprehension arose 
from the fickle minds of the plebeians, who, becoming weary of 
the siege, would have more consideration of their own danger 
than of others' liberty, and would thus compel them to 
submit to some disgraceful and ruinous capitulation. In 
order to animate them to defence, they were assembled in 
the public piazza, and one of the eldest and most esteemed of 
the citizens addressed them in the following terms : — " You 

218 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. 3. a.d. 1437- 

are doubtless aware that what is done from necessity involves 
neither censure nor applause ; therefore, if you should accuse 
us of having caused the present war, by receiving the ducal 
forces into the city, and allowing them to commit hostilities 
against the Florentines, you are greatly mistaken. You are 
well acquainted with the ancient enmity of the Florentines 
against you, which is not occasioned by any injuries you have 
done them, or by fear on their part, but by our weakness and 
their own ambition ; for the one gives them hope of being able 
to oppress us, and the other incites them to attempt it. It 
is then vain to imagine that any merit of yours can ex- 
tinguish that desire in them, or that any offence you can 
commit, can provoke them to greater animosity. They en- 
deavour to deprive you of your liberty ; you must resolve to 
defend it ; and whatever they may undertake against us for 
that purpose, although we may lament, we need not won- 
der. "We may well grieve, therefore, that they attack us, 
take possession of our towns, burn our houses, and waste 
our country. But who is so simple as to be surprised at 
it ? for were it in our power, we should do just the same 
to them, or even worse. They declare war against us now, 
they say, for having received Niccolo ; but if we had not 
received him, they would have done the same and assigned 
some other ground for it ; and if the evil had been delayed, it 
would most probably have been greater. Therefore, you 
must not imagine it to be occasioned by his arrival, but rather 
by your own ill fortune and their ambition ; for we could not 
have refused admission to the duke's forces, and, being 
come, we could not prevent their aggressions. You know, 
that without the aid of some powerful ally we are incapable 
of self-defence, and that none can render us this service more 
powerfully or faithfully than the duke. He restored our 
liberty ; it is reasonable to expect he will defend it. He has 
always been the greatest foe of our inveterate enemies ; if, 
therefore, to avoid incensing the Florentines we had excited 
his anger, we should have lost our best friend, and rendered our 
enemy more powerful and more disposed to oppress us ; so that 
it is far preferable to have this war upon our hands, and enjoy 
the favour of the duke, than to be in peace without it. Besides, 
we are justified in expecting that he will rescue us from the 
dangers into which we are brought on his account, if we only 

B v. cn.3. A.n.1437. DEFENCE OF LUCCA. 2!9 

do not abandon our own cause. You all know hew fiercely 
the Florentines have frequently assailed us, and with what 
glory we have maintained our defence. We have often been 
deprived of every hope, except in God and the casualties 
which time might produce, and both have proved our friends. 
And as they have delivered us formerly, why should they not 
continue to do so. Then we were forsaken by the whole of 
Italy ; now we have the duke in our favour ; besides, we 
have a right to suppose that the Venetians will not hastily 
attack us ; for they will not willingly see the power of 
Florence increased. On a former occasion, the Florentines 
were more at liberty ; they had greater hope of assistance, 
and were more powerful in themselves, whilst we were in 
every respect weaker ; for then a tyrant governed us, now we 
defend ourselves ; then the glory of our defence was an- 
other's, now it is our own ; then they were in harmony, now 
they are disunited, all Italy being filled with their banished 
citizens. But were we without the hope which these favour- 
able circumstances present, our extreme necessity should 
make us firmly resolved on our defence. It is reasonable to 
fear every enemy, for all seek their own glory and your ruin ; 
above all others, you have to dread the Florentines, for 
they would not be satisfied by submission and tribute, or the 
dominion of our city, but they would possess our entire sub- 
stance and persons, that they might satiate their cruelty with 
our blood, and their avarice with our property, so that all 
ranks ought to dread them. Therefore do not be troubled at 
seeing our crops destroyed, our towns burned, our fortresses 
occupied ; for if we preserve the city, the rest will be saved 
as matter of course ; if we lose her, all else would be of no 
advantage to us ; for while retaining our liberty, the enemy 
can hold them only with the greatest difficulty, whilst losing 
it they would be preserved in vain. Arm, therefore ; and 
when in the fight, remember that the reward of victory will 
be safety, not only to your country, but to your homes, your 
wives, and your children." The speaker's last words were 
received with the utmost enthusiasm by the people, who pro- 
mised one and all to die rather than abandon their cause, or 
submit to any terms that could violate their liberty. They 
then made arrangements for the defence of the city. 

In the meantime, the Florentine forces were not idle ; and 

220 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B v. ch. 3. a.d. 1437. 

after innumerable mischiefs done to the country, took Monte 
Carlo by capitulation. They then besieged Uzano, in order 
that the Lucchese, being pressed on all sides, might despair 
of assistance, and be compelled to submission by famine. 
The fortress was very strong, and defended by a numerous 
garrison, so that its capture would be by no means an easy 
undertaking. The Lucchese, as might be expected, seeing 
the imminent peril of their situation, had recourse to the 
duke, and employed prayers and remonstrances to induce him 
to render them aid. They enlarged upon their own merits 
and the offences of the Florentines ; and showed how greatly 
it would attach the duke's friends to him to find they were 
defended, and how much disaffection it would spread among 
them, if they were left to be overwhelmed by the enemy ; 
that if they lost their liberties and their lives, he would lose his 
honour and his friends, and forfeit the confidence of all who 
from affection might be induced to incur dangers in hia 
behalf; and added tears to entreaties, so that if he were un- 
moved by gratitude to them, he might be induced to their 
defence by motives of compassion. The duke, influenced 
by his inveterate animosity against the Florentines, his new 
new obligation to the Lucchese, and, above all, by his desire 
to prevent so great an acquisition from falling into the hands 
of his ancient enemies, determined either to send a strong 
force into Tuscany, or vigorously to assail the Venetians, so 
as to compel the Florentines to give up their enterprise and 
go to their relief. 

It was soon known in Florence that the duke was pre- 
paring to send forces into Tuscany. This made the Flo- 
rentines apprehensive for the success of their enterprise ; 
and in order to retain the duke in Lombardy, they requested 
the Venetians to press him with their utmost strength. But 
they also were alarmed, the marquis of Mantua having aban- 
doned them and gone over to the duke ; and thus, finding 
themselves almost defenceless, they replied, " that instead of 
increasing their responsibilities, they should be unable to per- 
form their part in the war, unless the Count Francesco were 
sent to them to take the command of the army, and with the 
special understanding that he should engage to cross the Po 
in person. They declined to fulfil their former engage- 
ments unless he were bound to do so ; for they could not 

I!, v en. 3. a.d. 1437. FRANCESCO SFOKZA.. 221 

carry on the war without a leader, or repose confidence 
in any except the count ; and that he himself would 
be useless to them, unless he came under an obligation 
to carry on the war whenever they might think needful." 
The Florentines thought the war ought to be pushed vigor- 
ously in Lombardy ; but they saw that if they lost the count 
their enterprise against Lucca was ruined ; and they knew 
well that the demand of the Venetians arose less from any 
need they had of the count, than from their desire to frustrate 
this expedition. The count, on the other hand, was ready to 
pass into Lombardy whenever the league might require him, 
but would not alter the tenor of his engagement ; for he was 
unwilling to sacrifice the hope of the alliance promised to 
him by the duke. 

The Florentines were thus embarrassed by two contrary 
impulses, the wish to possess Lucca, and the dread of a war 
with Milan. As commonly happens, fear was the most 
powerful, and they consented, after the capture of Uzano, 
that the count should go into Lombardy. There still re- 
mained another difficulty, which, depending on circumstances 
beyond the reach of their influence, created more doubts and 
uneasiness than the former ; the count would not consent to 
pass the Po, and the Venetians refused to accept him on any 
other condition. Seeing no other method of arrangement, 
than that each should make liberal concessions, the Floren- 
tines induced the count to engage to cross the river by a 
letter addressed to the Signory of Florence, intimating that 
this private promise did not invalidate any public engage- 
ment, and that he might still refrain from crossing ; hence it 
resulted that the Venetians, having commenced the war, would 
be compelled to proceed, and that the evil apprehended by 
the Florentines would be averted. To the Venetians, on 
the other hand, they averred that this private letter was 
sufficiently binding, and therefore they ought to be content ; 
for if they could save the count from breaking with his 
father-in-law, it was well to do so, and that it could be of no 
advantage either to themselves or the Venetians to publish 
it without some manifest necessity. It was thus determined 
that the count should pass into Lombardy ; and having taken 
Uzano, and raised bastions about Lucca to restrain in her 
inhabitants, placed the management of the siege in the hands 

222 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. v. ch. 3. a.d. 1437 

of the commissaries, crossed the Appennines, and proceeded 
to Reggio, when the Venetians, alarmed at his progress, and 
in order to discover his intentions, insisted upon his imme- 
diately crossing the Po, and joining the other forces. The 
count refused compliance, and many mutual recriminations 
took place between him and Andrea Mauroceno, their mes- 
senger on this occasion, each charging the other with 
arrogance and treachery : after many protestations, the one 
of being under no obligation to perform that service, and 
the other of not being bound to any payment, they parted, 
the count to return to Tuscany, the other to Venice. 

The Florentines had sent the count to encamp in the 
Pisan territory, and were in hopes of inducing him to renew 
the war against the Lucchese, but found him indisposed to 
do so, for the duke, having been informed that out of regard 
to him he had refused to cross the Po, thought that by his 
means he might also save the Lucchese, and begged the 
count to endeavour to effect an accommodation between the 
Florentines and the Lucchese, including himself in it, if he 
were able, declaring, at the same time, the promised mar- 
riage should be solemnized whenever he thought proper. 
The prospect of this connexion had great influence with the 
count, for, as the duke had no sons, it gave him hope of be- 
coming sovereign of Milan. For this reason he gradually 
abated his exertions in the war, declared he would not pro- 
ceed unless the Venetians fulfilled their engagement as to 
the payment, and also retained him in the command ; that 
the discharge of the debt would not alone be sufficient, for 
desiring to live peaceably in his own dominions, he needed 
some alliance other than that of the Florentines, and that he 
must regard his own interests, shrewdly hinting that if 
abandoned by the Venetians, he would come to terms with 
the duke. 

These indirect and crafty methods of procedure were 
highly offensive to the Florentines, for they found their ex- 
pedition against Lucca frustrated, and trembled for the safety 
of their own territories if ever the count and the duke should 
enter into a mutual alliance. To induce the Venetians to 
retain the count in the command, Cosmo de' Medici went to 
Venice, hoping his influence would prevail with them, and 
discussed the subject at great length before the senate, 

B t. ch. 3. a.d. 1438. COSMO AT VENICE. 223 

pointing out the condition of the Italian states, the disposi- 
tion of their armies, and the great preponderance possessed 
by the duke. He concluded by saying, that if the count and 
the duke were to unite their forces, they (the Venetians) 
might return to the sea, and the Florentines would have to 
fight for their liberty. To this the Venetians replied, that 
they were acquainted with their own strength and that of the 
Italians, and thought themselves able at all events to provide 
for their own defence ; that it was not their custom to pay 
soldiers for serving others ; that as the Florentines had used 
the count's services, they must pay him themselves ; with 
respect to the security of their own states, it was rather 
desirable to check the count's pride, than to pay him, for the 
ambition of men is boundless, and that if he were now paid 
without serving, he would soon make some other demand, 
still more unreasonable and dangerous. It therefore seemed 
necessary to curb his insolence, and not allow it to increase 
till it became incorrigible ; and that if the Florentines, from 
fear or any other motive, wished to preserve his friendship, 
they must pay him themselves. Cosmo returned without 
having effected any part of his object. 

The Florentines used the weightiest arguments they could 
adopt to prevent the count from quitting the service of the 
League, a course he was himself reluctant to follow, but his 
desire to conclude the marriage so embarrassed him, that any 
trivial accident would have been sufficient to determine his 
course, as indeed shortly happened. The count nad left his 
territories in La Marca to the care of II Furlano, one of his 
principal condottieri, who was so far influenced by the duke 
as to take command under him, and quit the count's service. 
This circumstance caused the latter to lay aside every idea 
but that of his own safety, and to come to agreement with 
the duke ; among the terms of which compact was one that 
he should not be expected to interfere in the affairs of 
Romagna and Tuscany. The count then urged the Floren- 
tines to come to terms with the Lucchese, and so convinced 
them of the necessity of this, that seeing no better course to 
adopt, they complied in April, 1438, by which treaty the 
Lucchese retained their liberty, and the Florentines Monte 
Carlo and a few other fortresses. After this, being full of 
exasperation, they despatched letters to every part of Italy, 

22 i HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. v ch 3. a.d. 1138. 

overcharged with complaints, affecting to show that since 
God and men were averse to the Lucchese coming under 
their dominion, they had made peace with them. And it 
seldom happens that any suffer so much for the loss of their 
own lawful property as they did because they could not 
obtain the possessions of others. 

Though the Florentines had now so many affairs in hand, 
they did not allow the proceedings of their neighbours to 
pass unnoticed, or neglect the decoration of their city. As 
before observed, Niccolo Fortebraccio was dead. He had 
married a daughter of the Count di Poppi, who, at the 
decease of his son-in-law, held the Borgo San Sepolcro, and 
other fortresses of that district, and whilst Niccolo lived, 
governed them in his name. Claiming them as his daughter's 
portion, he refused to give them up to the pope, who de- 
manded them as property held of the church, and who, upon 
his refusal, sent the patriarch with forces to take possession 
of them. The count, finding himself unable to sustain the 
attack, offered them to the Florentines, who declined them ; 
but the pope having returned to Florence, they interceded 
with him in the count's behalf. Difficulties arising, the 
patriarch attacked the Casentino, took Prato Vecchio, and 
Romena, and offered them also to the Florentines, who 
refused them likewise, unless the pope would consent they 
should restore them to the count, to which, after much hesi- 
tation, he acceded, on condition that the Florentines should 
prevail with the Count di Poppi to restore the Borgo to him. 
The pope was thus satisfied, and the Florentines having so 
far completed the building of their cathedral church of Santa 
Rejmrata, which had been commenced long ago, as to enable 
them to perform divine service in it, requested his holiness to 
consecrate it. To this the pontiff willingly agreed, and the 
Florentines, to exhibit the wealth of the city and the splendour 
of the edifice, and do greater honour to the pope, erected 
a platform from Santa Maria Novella, where he resided, to 
the cathedral he was about to consecrate, six feet in height 
and twelve feet wide, covered with rich drapery, for the 
accommodation of the pontiff and his court, upon which they 
proceeded to the building, accompanied by those civic magis- 
trates and other officers who were appointed to take part in 
the procession. The usual ceremonies of consecration having 

B. v. en. 4. a.d. 1438. COUNCIL OF FLORENCE. 225 

been completed, the pope, to show his affection for the city, 
conferred the honour of knighthood upon Giuliano Davan- 
zati, their Gonfalonier of Justice, and a citizen of the highest 
reputation ; and the Signory, not to appear less gracious than 
the pope, granted to the new created knight the government 
of Pisa for one year. 

There were at that time certain differences between the 
Roman and the Greek churches, which prevented perfect con- 
formity in divine service ; and at the last council of Bale, the 
prelates of the Western church having spoken at great 
length upon the subject, it was resolved that efforts should 
be made to bring the emperor and the Greek prelates to the 
council at Bale, to endeavour to reconcile the Greek church 
with the Roman. Though this resolution was derogatory to 
the majesty of the Greek empire, and offensive to its clergy, 
iyet, being then oppressed by the Turk$, and fearing their in- 
ability for defence, in order to have a better ground for 
•requesting assistance, they submitted ; and therefore, the em- 
peror, the patriarch, with other prelates and barons of Greece, 
to comply with the resolution of the council assembled at' 
Bale, came to Venice ; but being terrified by the plague then 
prevailing, it was resolved to terminate their differences at 
Florence. The Roman and Greek prelates having held a 
conference during several days, in which many long discus- 
sions took place, the Greeks yielded, and agreed to adopt the 
ritual of the church of Rome. 


Sfew wars in Italy — Niccolo Piccinino, in concert with the duke of Milan, 
deceives the pope, and takes many places from the church — Niccolo 
attacks the Venetians — Fears and precautions of the Florentines — The 
Venetians request assistance of the Florentines and of Sforza — League 
against the duke of Milan — The Florentines resolve to send the count to 
assist the Venetians — Neri di Gino Capponi at Venice — His discourse to 
the senate — Extreme joy of the Venetians. 

3 eace being restored between the Lucchese and Floren- 
ces, and the duke and the count having become friends, 
topes were entertained that the arms of Italy would be laid 


226 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. v. ch. 4. a.d. 143£ 

aside, although those in the kingdom of Naples, between Ren 
of Anjou and Alfonso of Arragon, could find repose only by th 
ruin of one party or the other. And though the pope wa 
dissatisfied with the loss of so large a portion of his terri 
tories, and the ambition of the duke and the Venetians wa 
obvious, still it was thought that the pontiff, from neces 
sity, and the others from weariness, would be advocates o 
peace. However, a different state of feeling prevailed, fo: 
neither the duke nor the Venetians were satisfied with thei 
condition ; so that hostilities were resumed, and Lombard; 
and Tuscany were again harassed by the horrors of war 
The proud mind of the duke could not endure that the Vene 
tians should possess Bergamo and Brescia, and he was stil 
further annoyed, by hearing, that they were constantly ii 
arms, and in the daily practice of annoying some portion o 
his territories. He thought, however, that he should not onb 
be able to restrain them, but to recover the places he ha( 
lost, if the pope, the Florentines, and the count could be in 
duced to forego the Venetian alliance. He therefore resolvec 
to take Romagna from the pontiff, imagining that his holi- 
ness could not injure him, and that the Florentines, finding 
the conflagration so near, either for their own sake would re 
frain from interference, or if they did not, could not conve 
niently attack him. The duke was also aware of the resent- 
ment of the Florentines against the Venetians, on account o; 
the affair of Lucca, and he therefore judged they would b( 
the less eager to take arms against him on their behalf. Wit! 
regard to the Count Francesco, he trusted that their ne^ 
friendship, and the hope of his alliance would keep hin 
quiet. To give as little colour as possible for complaint, anc 
to lull suspicion, particularly, because in consequence of hit 
treaty with the count, the latter could not attack Romagna. 
he ordered Niccolo Piccinino, as if instigated by his owr 
ambition to do so. 

When the agreement between the duke and the count was 
concluded, Niccolo was in Romagna, and in pursuance of his 
instructions from the duke, affected to be highly incensed, 
that a connexion had been established between him and the 
count, his inveterate enemy. He therefore withdrew himselJ 
and his forces to Camurata, a place between Furli and Raven- 
na, which he fortified, as if designing to remain there some 

B. v. oh. 4. a.d. 1438. THE TOPE DECEIVED. 227 

time, or till a new enterprise should present itself. The re- 
port of his resentment being diffused, Niccolo gave the pope 
to understand how much the duke was under obligation 
to him, and how ungrateful he proved ; and he was per- 
suaded, that, possessing nearly all the arms of Italy, under the 
two principal generals, he could render himself sole ruler ; 
but if his holiness pleased, of the two principal generals 
whom he fancied he possessed, one would become his enemy, 
and the other be rendered useless ; for, if money were pro- 
vided him, and he were kept in pay, he would attack the 
territories held of the church by the count, who being com- 
pelled to look to his own interests, could not subserve the 
ambition of Filippo. The pope giving entire credence to 
this representation, on account of its apparent reasonableness, 
sent Niccolo five thousand ducats, and loaded him with 
promises of states for himself and his children. And though 
many informed him of the deception, he could not give 
credit to them, nor would he endure the conversation of any 
who seemed to doubt the integrity of Niccolo's professions. 
The city of Ravenna was held for the church by Ostasio da 
Polenta. Niccolo finding further delay would be detrimental, 
since his son Francesco had, to the pope's great dishonour, 
pillaged Spoleto, determined to attack Ravenna, either be- 
cause he judged the enterprise easy, or because he had a 
secret understanding with Ostasio, for in a few days after the 
attack, the place capitulated. He then took Bologna, Imola, 
and Furli ; and (what is worthy of remark) of twenty for- 
tresses held in that country for the pope, not one escaped 
falling into his hands. Not satisfied with these injuries in- 
flicted on the pontiff, he resolved to banter him by his words 
as well as ridicule him by his deeds, and wrote, that he had only • 
done as his holiness deserved, for having unblushingly at- 
tempted to divide two such attached friends as the duke and 
himself, and for having dispersed over Italy letters intimat- 
ing that he had quitted the duke to take part with the Vene- 
tians. Having taken possession of Ramagna, Niccolo left it 
under the charge of his son, Francesco, and with the greater 
part of his troops, went into Lombardy, where joining the 
remainder of the duke's forces, he attacked the country about 
Brescia, and having soon completely conquered it, besieged 
the city itself. 

Q 2 

228 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. v. ch. 4. a.d. 1438. 

The duke, who desired the Venetians to be left defenceless, 
excused himself to the pope, the Florentines, and the count, 
saying, that if the doings of Niccolo were contrary to the 
terms of the treaty, they were equally contrary to his wishes, 
and by secret messengers, assured them that when an occa- 
sion presented itself, he would give them a convincing proof 
that they had been performed in disobedience to his instruc- 
tions. Neither the count nor the Florentines believed him, 
but thought, with reason, that these enterprises had been 
carried on to keep them at bay, till he had subdued the Ve- 
netians, who, being full of pride, and thinking themselves 
able alone to resist the duke, had not deigned to ask for any 
assistance, but carried on the war under their captain, Gat- 

Count Francesco would have wished, with the consent 
of the Florentines, to go to the assistance of king Rene, if 
the events of Romagna and Lombardy had not hindered 
him ; and the Florentines would willingly have consented, 
from their ancient friendship to the French dynasty, but the 
duke was entirely in favour of Alfonso. Each being engaged 
in w r ars near home, refrained from distant undertakings. 
The Florentines, finding Romagna occupied with the duke's 
forces, and the Venetians defeated, as if foreseeing their own 
ruin in that of others, entreated the count to come into Tus- 
cany, where they might consider what should be done to 
resist Filippo's power, which was now greater than it had 
ever before been ; assuring him that if his insolence were not 
in some way curbed, all the powers of Italy would soon have 
to submit to him. The count felt the force of the fears en- 
tertained by the Florentines, but his desire to secure the 
duke's alliance kept him in suspense ; and the duke, aware of 
this desire, gave him the greatest assurance that his hopes 
would be realized as shortly as possible, if he abstained from 
nostilities against him. As the lady was now of marriage- 
able age, the duke had frequently made all suitable prepa- 
rations for the celebration of the ceremony, but on one pre- 
text or another they had always been wholly set aside. He 
now, to give the count greater confidence, added deeds to his 
words, and sent him thirty thousand florins, which, by the 
terms of the marriage contract, he had engaged to pay. 

Still the war in Lombardy proceeded with greater vehe- 

B.v.<h.4. a.d. 1438. TREATY WITH VENICE. 229 

mence than ever; the Venetians constantly suffered fresh 
of territory, and the fleets they equipped upon the 
rivers were taken by the duke's forces ; the country around 
Verona and Brescia was entirely occupied, and the two cities 
themselves so pressed, that their speedy fall was generally 
anticipated. The marquis of Mantua, who for many years 
had led the forces of their republic, quite unexpectedly re- 
signed his command, and went over to the duke's service. 
Thus the course which pride prevented them from adopting 
at the commencement of the war, fear compelled them to 
take during its progress ; for knowing there was no help for 
them but in the friendship of the Florentines and the count, 
they began to make overtures to obtain it, though with shame 
and apprehension ; for they were afraid of receiving a reply 
similar to that which they had given the Florentines, when 
the latter applied for assistance in the enterprise against 
Lucca and the count's affairs. However, they found the 
Florentines more easily induced to render aid than they ex- 
pected, or their conduct deserved ; so much more were the 
former swayed by hatred of their ancient enemy, than by 
resentment of the ingratitude of their old and habitual 
friends. Having foreseen the necessity into which the 
Venetians must come, they had informed the count that their 
ruin must involve his own ; that he was deceived if he thought 
the duke, while fortunate, would esteem him more than if he 
were in adversity ; that the duke was induced to promise him 
his daughter by the fear he entertained of him ; that what 
necessity occasions to be promised, it also causes to be per- 
formed ; and it was therefore desirable to keep the duke in 
that necessity, which could not be done without supporting 
the power of the Venetians. Therefore he might perceive, 
that if the Venetians were compelled to abandon their inland 
territories, he would not only lose the advantages derivable 
from them, but also those to be obtained from such as feared 
them ; and that if he considered well the powers of Italy, he 
would see that some were poor, and others hostile ; that the 
Florentines alone were not, as he had often said, sufficient for 
his support ; so that on every account it was best to keep the 
Venetians powerful by land. These arguments, conjoined 
with the hatred which the count had conceived against 
Filippo, by supposing himself duped with regard to the pro- 

230 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. v. ch. 4. a.d. 1438. 

mised alliance, induced him to consent to a new treaty ; but 
still he would not consent to cross the Po. The agreement 
was concluded in February, 1438 ; the Venetians agreeing to 
pay two-thirds of the expense of the war, the Florentines 
one-third, and each engaging to defend the states which the 
count possessed in La Marca. Nor were these the only 
forces of the league, for the lord of Faenza, the sons of 
Pandolfo Malatesti da Rimino and Pietro Giampagolo Orsini 
also joined them. They endeavoured, by very liberal offers, 
to gain over the marquis of Mantua, but could not prevail 
against the friendship and stipend of the duke ; and the lord 
of Faenza, after having entered into compact with the league, 
being tempted by more advantageous terms, went over to 
him. This made them despair of being able to effect an 
early settlement of the troubles of Romagna. 

The affairs of Lombardy were in this condition : — Brescia 
was so closely besieged by the duke's forces, that constant ap- 
prehensions were entertained of her being compelled by famine 
to a surrender ; whilst Verona was so pressed, that a similar 
fate was expected to await her, and if one of these cities were 
lost, all the other preparations for the war might be con- 
sidered useless, and the expenses already incurred as com- 
pletely wasted. For this there was no remedy, but to send 
the count into Lombardy ; and to this measure three obstacles 
presented themselves. The first was, to induce him to cross 
the Po, and prosecute the war in whatever locality might be 
found most advisable ; the second, that the count being at a 
distance, the Florentines would be left almost at the mercy 
of the duke, who, issuing from any of his fortresses, might 
with part of his troops keep the count at bay, and with 
the rest introduce into Tuscany the Florentine exiles, whom 
the existing government greatly dreaded ; the third was, to 
determine what rout the count should take to arrive safely 
in the Paduan territory, and join the Venetian forces. Of 
these three difficulties, the second, which particularly re- 
garded the Florentines, was the most serious ; but, knowing 
the necessity of the case, and wearied out by the Venetians, 
who with unceasing importunity demanded the count, inti- 
mating that without him they should abandon all hope, they 
resolved to relieve their allies rather than listen to the sug- 
gestions of their own fears. There still remained the question 

h 4. a.d. 1439. CArPONI AT VENICE. 231 

about the route to be taken, for the safety of which they 
determined the Venetians should provide; and as they had 
sent Neri Capponi to treat with the count, and induce him to 
cross the Po, they determined that the same person should 
also proceed to Venice, in order to make the benefit the more 
acceptable to the Signory, and see that all possible security 
were given to the passage of the forces. 

Neri embarked at Cesena and went to Venice ; nor was 
any prince ever received with so much honour as he was ; 
for upon his arrival, and the matters which his intervention 
was to decide and determine, the safety of the republic 
6eemed to depend. Being introduced to the senate, and in 
presence of the Doge, he said, " The Signory of Florence, 
most serene prince, has always perceived in the duke's great- 
ness the source of ruin both to this republic and our own, 
and that the safety of both states depends upon their separate 
strength and mutual confidence. If such had been the 
opinion of this illustrious Signory, we should ourselves have 
been in better condition, and your republic would have been 
free from the dangers that now threaten it. But as at the 
proper crisis you withheld from us confidence and aid, we 
could not come to the relief of your distress, nor could you, 
being conscious of this, freely ask us ; for neither in your 
prosperity nor adversity have you clearly perceived our 
motives. You have not observed, that those whose deeds 
have once incurred our hatred, can never become entitled to 
our regard ; nor can those who have once merited our affec- 
tion ever after absolutely cancel their claim. Our attachment 
to your most serene Signory is well known to you all, for 
you have often seen Lombardy filled with our forces and our 
money for your assistance. Our hereditary enmity to Filippo 
and his house is universally known, and it is impossible that 
love or hatred, strengthened by the growth of years, can 
be eradicated from our minds by any recent act either of 
kindness or neglect. We have always thought, and are 
still of the same opinion, that we might now remain 
neutral, greatly to the duke's satisfaction, and with little 
hazard to ourselves ; for if by your ruin he were to become 
lord of Lombardy, we should still have sufficient influence 
in Italy to free us from any apprehension on our own 
account ; for every increase of power and territory augments 

232 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. v. ch. 4. a.d. 1438 

that animosity and envy, from which arise wars and the dis- 
memberment of states. We are also aware what heavy ex- 
penses and imminent perils we should avoid, by declining to 
involve ourselves in these disputes ; and how easily the field 
of battle may be transferred from Lombardy to Tuscany, by 
our interference in your behalf. Yet all these apprehensions 
are at once overborne by our ancient affection for the senate 
and people of Venice, and we have resolved to come to your 
relief, with the same zeal with which we should have armed 
in our own defence, had we been attacked. Therefore, the 
senate of Florence, judging it primarily necessary to relieve 
Verona and Brescia, and thinking this impossible without the 
count, have sent me, in the first instance, to persuade him to 
pass into Lombardy, and carry on the war wherever it may 
be most needful ; for you are aware he is under no obliga- 
tion to cross the Po. To induce him so to do, I have ad- 
vanced such arguments as are suggested by the circumstances 
themselves, and which would prevail with us, He, being in- 
vincible in arms, cannot be surpassed in courtesy, and the 
liberality he sees the Florentines exercise towards you, he 
has resolved to outdo ; for he is well aware to what dangers 
Tuscany will be exposed after his departure, and since we 
have made your affairs our primary consideration, he has 
also resolved to make his own subservient to yours. I 
come, therefore, to tender his services, with seven thousand 
cavalry and two thousand infantry, ready at once to march 
against the enemy, wherever he may be. And I beg of you, 
so do my lords at Florence and the count, that as his 
forces exceed the number he has engaged to furnish, you, out 
of your liberality, would remunerate him, that he may not 
repent of having come to your assistance, nor we, that we 
have prevailed with him to do so." This discourse of Neri to 
the senate was listened to with that profound attention which 
an oracle might be imagined to command ; and his audience 
were so moved by it, that they could not restrain themselves, 
till the prince had replied, as strict decorum upon such oc- 
casions required, but rising from their seats, with uplifted 
hands, and most of them with tears in their eyes, they 
thanked the Florentines for their generous conduct, and the 
ambassador for his unusual despatch ; and promised that 
time should never cancel the remembrance of such good- 

S. a.d. 1439. VERONA RELIEVED. 233 

ness, either in their own hearts, or their children's ; and 
that their country, thenceforth, should be common to the 
Florentines with themselves. 


Francesco Sforza marches to assist the Venetians, and relieves Verona — 
He attempts to relieve Brescia but fails — The Venetians routed by Pic- 
cinino upon the Lake of Garda — Piccinino routed by Sforza; the 
method of his escape — Piccinino surprises Verona — Description of 
Verona — Recovered by Sforza — The duke of Milan makes war against 
the Florentines — Apprehensions of the Florentines — Cardinal Vitelles- 
chi theix enemy. 

When their demonstrations of gratitude had subsided, the 
Venetian senate, by the aid of Neri di Gino, began to consider 
the route the count ought to take, and how to provide him 
with necessaries. There were four several roads ; one by 
Ravenna, along the beach, which on account of its being in 
many places interrupted by the sea and by marshes, was 
not approved. The next was the most direct, but rendered 
inconvenient, by a tower called the Uccellino, which being 
held for the duke, it would be necessary to capture ; and to 
do this, would occupy more time than could be spared with 
safety to Verona and Brescia. The third was by the brink of 
the lake ; but as the Po had overflown its banks, to pass 
in this direction was impossible. The fourth was by the 
way of Bologna to Ponte Puledrano, Cento, and Pieve ; 
then between the Bondeno and the Finale to Ferrara, and 
thence they might by land or water enter the Paduan terri- 
tory, and join the Venetian forces. This route, though at- 
tended with many difficulties, and in some parts liable to be 
disputed by the enemy, was chosen as the least objectionable. 
The count having received his instructions, commenced his 
march, and by exerting the utmost celerity, reached the 
Paduan territory on the 20th of June. The arrival of this 
distinguished commander in Lombardy filled Venice and all 
her dependencies with hope ; for the Venetians, who only an 

234 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. v. ch. 5. a.d. 1439 

instant before had been in fear for their very existence, be- 
gan to contemplate new conquests. 

The count, before he made any other attempt, hastened to 
the relief of Verona ; and to counteract his design, Niccolo 
led his forces to Soave, a castle situated between the Vincen- 
tino and the Veronese, and entrenched himself by a ditch 
that extended from Soave to the marshes of the Adige. 
The count, finding his passage by the plain cut off, resolved 
to proceed by the mountains, and thus reach Verona, think- 
ing Niccolo would imagine this way to be so rugged and ele- 
vated as to be impracticable ; or if he thought otherwise, he 
would not be in time to prevent him ; so, with provisions 
for eight days, he took the mountain path, and with his 
forces, arrived in the plain, below Soave. Niccolo had, even 
upon this route, erected some bastions for the purpose of 
preventing him, but they were insufficient for the purpose ; 
and finding the enemy had, contrary to, his expectations, 
effected a passage, to avoid a disadvantageous engagement 
he crossed to the opposite side of the Adige, and the count 
entered Verona without opposition. 

Having happily succeeded in his first object, that of re- 
lieving Verona, the count now endeavoured to render a 
similar service to Brescia. This city is situated so close to 
the Lake of Garda, that although besieged by land, provisions 
may always be sent into it by water. On this account the 
duke had assembled a large force in the immediate vicinity 
of the lake, and at the commencement of his victories occu- 
pied all the places which by its means might relieve Brescia. 
The Venetians also had galleys upon the lake, but they were 
unequal to a contest with those of the duke. The count 
therefore deemed it advisable to aid the Venetian fleet with 
his land forces, by which means he hoped to obtain without 
much difficulty those places which kept Brescia in blockade. 
He therefore encamped before Bardolino, a fortress situated 
upon the lake, trusting that after it was taken the others 
would surrender. But fortune opposed this design, for a 
great part of his troops fell sick ; so, giving up the enterprise, 
he went to Zevio, a Veronese castle, in a healthy and plenti- 
ful situation. Niccolo, upon the count's retreat, not to let 
slip an opportunity of making himself master of the lake, leit 
his camp at Vegasio, and with a body of picked men took the 

B. v. ch. 5. a.p. 1439. NICCOLO'S ESCAPE. 235 

way thither, attacked the Venetian fleet with the utmost 
impetuosity, and took nearly the whole of it. By this 
victory almost all the fortresses upon the lake fell into his 

The Venetians, alarmed at this loss, and fearing that in 
consequence of it Brescia would surrender, solicited the 
count, by letters and messengers, to go to its relief ; and he, 
perceiving that all hope of rendering assistance from the 
lake was cut of, and that to attempt an approach by land, on 
account of the ditches, bastions, and other defences erected by 
Niccolo, was marching to certain destruction, determined that 
as the passage by the mountains had enabled him to relieve 
Verona, it should also contribute to the preservation of 
Brescia. Having taken this resolution, the count left Zevio, 
and by way of the Val d' Acri went to the Lake of St 
Andrea, and thence to Torboli and Peneda, upon the Lake 
of Garda. He then proceeded to Tenna, and besieged the 
fortress, which it was necessary to occupy before he could 
reach Brescia. 

Niccolo, on being acquainted with the count's design, led 
his army to Peschiera. He then, with the marquis of 
Mantua and a chosen body of men, went to meet him, and 
coming to an engagement, was routed, his people dispersed, 
and many of them taken, whilst others fled to the fleet, and 
some to the main body of his army. It was now nightfall, 
and Niccolo had escaped to Tenna, but he knew that if he 
were to remain there till morning, he must inevitably fall 
into the enemy's hands ; therefore, to avoid a catastrophe 
which might be regarded as almost fatal, he resolved to make 
a dangerous experiment. Of all his attendants he had only 
with him a single servant, a Dutchman, of great personal 
strength, and who had always been devotedly attached to 
him. Niccolo induced this man to take him upon his 
shoulders in a sack, as if he had been carrying property of 
his master's, and to bear him to a place of security. The 
enemy's lines surrounded Tenna, but on account of the pre- 
vious day's victory, all was in disorder, and no guard was 
kept, so that the Dutchman, disguised as a trooper, passed 
through them without any opposition, and brought his master 
in safety to his own troops. 

Had this victory been as carefully improved as it was for- 

236 H [STORY OF FLORENCE. B. v. ch. 5. a.d. 1433 

tunately obtained, Brescia would have derived from it greater 
relief and the Venetians more permanent advantage ; but 
they, having thoughtlessly let it slip, the rejoicings were 
soon over, and Brescia remained in her former difficulties. 
Niccolo, having returned to his forces, resolved by some 
extraordinary exertion to cancel the impression of his defeat, 
and deprive the Venetians of the chance of relieving Brescia. 
He was acquainted with the topography of the citadel of 
Verona, and had learned from prisoners whom he had taken, 
that it was badly guarded, and might be very easily recovered. 
He perceived at once that fortune presented him with an 
opportunity of regaining the laurels he had lately lost, and 
of changing the joy of the enemy for their recent victory into 
sorrow for a succeeding disaster. The city of Verona is 
situated in Lombardy, at the foot of the mountains which 
divide Italy from Germany, so that it occupies part both of 
hill and plain. The river Adige rises in the valley of Trento, 
and entering Italy, does not immediately traverse the country, 
but winding to the left, along the base of the hills, enters 
Verona, and crosses the city, which it divides unequally, 
giving much the larger portion to the plain. On the moun- 
tain side of the river are two fortresses, formidable rather 
from their situation than from their actual strength, for being 
very elevated they command the whole place. One is called 
San Piero, the other San Felice. On the opposite side of 
the Adige, upon the plain, with their backs against the city 
walls, are two other fortresses, about a mile distant from 
each other, one called the Old the other the New Citadel, 
and a wall extends between them that may be compared to a 
bow-string, of which the city wall is the arc. The space 
comprehended within this segment is very populous, and is 
called the Borgo of St. Zeno. Niccolo Piccinino designed to 
capture these fortresses and the Borgo, and he hoped to 
succeed without much difficulty, as well on account of the 
ordinary negligence of the guard, which their recent suc- 
cesses would probably increase, as because in war no enter- 
prise is more likely to be successful than one which by the 
enemy is deemed impossible. With a body of picked men, 
and accompanied by the marquis of Mantua, he proceeded 
by night to Verona, silently scaled the walls, and took the 
New Citadel ; then entering the place with his troops, he 

B. r. ch. 5. a.d. 1439. YERONA ATTACKED. 287 

forced the gate of S. Antonio, and introduced the whole of 
his cavalry. The Venetian garrison of the Old Citadel hear- 
ing an uproar, when the guards of the New were slaughtered, 
and again when the gate was forced, being now aware of the 
presence of enemies, raised an alarm, and called the people to 
arms. The citizens awaking in the utmost confusion, some 
of the boldest armed and hastened to the rectors' piazza. In 
the meantime, Niccolo's forces had pillaged the Borgo of 
San Zeno ; and proceeding onwards were ascertained by the 
people to be the duke's forces, but being defenceless they 
advised the Venetian rectors to take refuge in the fortresses, 
and thus save themselves and the place ; as it was more ad- 
visable to preserve their lives and so rich a city for better 
fortune, than, by endeavouring to repel the present evil, en- 
counter certain death, and incur universal pillage. Upon 
this the rectors, and all the Venetian party, fled to the fortress 
of San Felice. Some of the first citizens, anxious to avoid 
being plundered by the troops, presented themselves before 
Niccolo and the marquis of Mantua, and begged they would 
rather take possession of a rich city, with honour to them- 
selves, than of a poor one to their own disgrace ; particularly 
as they had not induced either the favour of its former pos- 
sessors, or the animosity of its present masters, by self- 
defence. The marquis and Niccolo encouraged them, and 
protected their property to the utmost of their power during 
such a state of military licence. As they felt sure the count 
would endeavour to recover the city, they made every possible 
exertion to gain possession of the fortresses, and those they 
could not seize they cut off from the rest of the place by 
ditches and barricades, so that the enemy might be shut out. 
The count Francesco was with his army at Tenna ; and 
when the report was first brought to him he refused to credit 
it ; but being assured of the fact by parties whom it would 
have been ridiculous to doubt, he resolved, by the exertion of 
uncommon celerity, to repair the evil negligence had occa- 
sioned ; and though all his officers advised the abandonment 
of Verona and Brescia, and a march to Vicenza, lest he might 
be besieged by the enemy in his present situation, he refused, 
but resolved to attempt the recovery of Verona. During the 
consultation, he turned to the Venetian commissaries and to 
Bernardo de' Medici, who was there as commissary for the 

238 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. v. ch. 5. ad. 1139 

Florentines, and promised them the recovery of the place 
if one of the fortresses should hold out. Having collected 
his forces, he proceeded with the utmost speed to Verona. 
Observing his approach, Niccolo thought he designed, ac- 
cording to the advice he had received, to go to Vicenza, but 
finding him continue to draw near, and taking the direc- 
tion of San Felice, he prepared for its defence — though too 
late ; for the barricades were not completed ; his men were 
dispersed in quest of plunder, or extorting money from 
the inhabitants by way of ransom ; and he could not collect 
them in time to prevent the count's troops from entering the 
fortress. They then descended into the city, which they 
happily recovered, to Niccolo's disgrace, and with the loss of 
great numbers of his men. He himself, with the marquis of 
Mantua, first took refuge in the citadel, and thence escaping 
into the country, fled to Mantua, where, having assembled 
the relics of their army, they hastened to join those who 
were at the siege of Brescia. Thus in four days Verona was 
lost and again recovered from the duke. The count, after 
this victory, it being now winter, and the weather very severe, 
having first with considerable difficulty thrown provisions 
into Brescia, went into quarters at Verona, and ordered, that 
during the cold season, galleys should be provided at Torboli, 
that upon the return of spring, they might be in a condition 
to proceed vigorously to effect the permanent relief of 

The duke, finding the war suspended for a time, the hope 
he had entertained of occupying Brescia and Verona annihi- 
lated, and the money and counsels of the Florentines the 
cause of this, and seeing that neither the injuries they had 
received from the Venetians could alienate them, nor all 
the promises he had made attach them to himself, he deter- 
mined, in order to make them feel more closely the effects 
of the course they had adopted, to attack Tuscany ; to 
which he was strenuously advised by the Florentine exiles 
and Niccolo. The latter advocated this from his desire to 
recover the states of Braccio, and expel the count from La 
Marca ; the former, from their wish to return home, and each 
by suitable arguments endeavoured to induce the duke to 
follow the plan congenial to their own views. Niccolo argued 
that he might be sent into Tuscany, and continue the siege 

B v. ch. 5. a.d 1439. GIOVANNI VITELLESCHI. 239 

of Brescia; for lie was master of the lake, the fortresses 
were well provided, and their officers were qualified to oppose 
the count should he undertake any fresh enterprise ; which it 
was not likely he would do without first relieving Brescia, a 
thing impossible ; and thus the duke might carry on the war 
in Tuscany, without giving up his attempts in Lombardy ; 
intimating that the Florentines would be compelled, as soon 
as he entered Tuscany, to recall the count to avoid complete 
ruin ; and whatever course they took, victory to the duke 
must be the result. The exiles affirmed, that if Niccolo with 
bis army were to approach Florence, the people, oppressed 
with taxes, and wearied out by the insolence of the great, 
would most assuredly not oppose him, and pointed out the 
facility of reaching Florence ; for the way by the Casentino 
would be open to them, through the friendship of Rinaldo 
and the Count di Poppi ; and thus the duke, who was pre- 
viously inclined to the attempt, was induced by their joint 
persuasions to make it. The Venetians, on the other hand, 
though the winter was severe, incessantly urged the count to 
relieve Brescia, with all his forces. The count questioned 
the possibility of so doing, and advised them to wait the 
return of spring, in the meantime strengthening their fleet as 
much as possible, and then assist it both by land and water. 
This rendered the Venetians dissatisfied ; they were dilatory 
in furnishing provisions, and consequently many deserted 
from their army. 

The Florentines, being informed of these transactions, 
became alarmed, perceiving the war threatening themselves, 
and the little progress made in Lombardy. Nor did the sus- 
picion entertained by them of the troops of the church give 
them less uneasiness ; not that the pope was their enemy, 
but because they saw those forces more under the sway of 
the patriarch, who was their greatest foe. Giovanni Vitel- 
leschi of Corneto was at first apostolic notary, then bishop of 
Recanati, and afterwards patriarch of Alexandria ; but at 
last, becoming a cardinal, he was called Cardinal of Florence. 
He was bold and cunning ; and, having obtained great in- 
fluence, was appointed to command the forces of the church, 
and conduct all the enterprises of the pontiff, whether in 
Tuscany, Romagna, the kingdom of Naples, or in Rome. 
Hence he acquired so much power over the pontiff, and the 

240 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. a.d. 1439. 

papal troops, that the former was afraid of commanding him, 
and the latter obeyed no one else. The cardinal's presence 
at Rome, when the report came of Niccolo's design to march 
into Tuscany, redoubled the fear of the Florentines ; for, 
since Rinaldo was expelled, he had become an enemy of the 
republic, from finding that the arrangements made by his 
means were not only disregarded, but converted to Rinaldo' s 
prejudice, and caused the laying down of arms, which had given 
his enemies an opportunity of banishing him. In consequence 
of this, the government thought it would be advisable to restore 
and indemnify Rinaldo, in case Niccolo came into Tuscany 
and were joined by him. Their apprehensions were in- 
creased by their being unable to account for Niccolo's de- 
parture from Lombardy, and his leaving one enterprise almost 
completed, to undertake another so entirely doubtful ; which 
they could not reconcile with their ideas of consistency, 
except by supposing some new design had been adopted, or 
some hidden treachery intended. They communicated their 
fears to the pope, who was now sensible of his error in having 
endowed the cardinal with too much authority. 


The pope imprisons the cardinal and assists the Florentines — Difference of 
opinion between the count and the Venetians respecting the manage- 
ment of the war. The Florentines reconcile them — The count wishes 
to go into Tuscany to oppose Piccinino, but is prevented by the Vene- 
tians — Niccolo Piccinino in Tuscany — He takes Marradi, and plunders 
the neighbourhood of Florence — Description of Marradi — Cowardice of 
Bartolomeo Orlandini — Brave resistance of Castel San Niccolo — San 
Niccolo surrenders — Piccinino attempts to take Cortona, but fails. 

Whilst the Florentines were thus anxious, fortune dis- 
closed the means of securing themselves against the patri- 
arch's malevolence. The republic everywhere exercised the 
very closest espionage over epistolary communication, in 
order to discover if any persons were plotting against the 
state. It happened that letters were intercepted at Monte 
Pulciano, which had been written by the patriarch to Niccolo 
without the pope's knowledge; and although they were 


written in an unusual character, and the sense so involved 
that no distinct idea could be extracted, the obscurity itself, 
and the whole aspect of the matter so alarmed the pontiff, 
that he resolved to seize the person of the cardinal, a duty 
he committed to Antonio Rido, of Padua, who had the com- 
mand of the castle of St. Angelo, and who, after receiving 
his instructions, soon found an opportunity of carrying them 
into effect. The patriarch, having determined to go into 
Tuscany, prepared to leave Rome on the following day, and 
ordered the castellan to be upon the drawbridge of the for- 
tress in the morning, for he wished to speak with him as he 
passed. Antonio perceived this to be the favourable moment, 
informed his people what they were to do, and awaited the 
arrival of the patriarch upon the bridge, which adjoined the 
building, and might for the purpose of security be raised or 
lowered as occasion required. The appointed time found 
him punctual ; and Antonio, having drawn him, as if for con- 
venience of conversation, on to the bridge, gave a signal to 
his men, who immediately raised it, and in a moment the 
cardinal, from being a commander of armies, found himself a 
prisoner of the castellan. The patriarch's followers at first 
began to use threats, but being informed of the pope's direc- 
tions they were appeased. The castellan comforting him 
with kind words, he replied, that " the great do not make 
each other prisoners to let them go again ; and that those 
whom it is proper to take, it is not well to set free." He 
shortly afterwards died in prison. The pope appointed 
Lodovico, patriarch of Aquileia, to command his troops ; 
and, though previously unwilling to interfere in the wars of 
the league and the duke, he was now content to take part in 
them, and engaged to furnish four thousand horse and two 
thousand foot for the defence of Tuscany. 

The Florentines, freed from this cause for anxiety, were 
still apprehensive of Niccolo, and feared confusion in the 
affairs of Lombardy, from the differences of opinion that 
existed between the count and the Venetians. In order the 
better to become acquainted with the intentions of the parties, 
they sent Neri di Gino Capponi and Giuliano Davanzati to 
Venice, with instructions to assist in the arrangement of the 
approaching campaign ; and ordered that Neri, having dis- 
covered how the Venetians were disposed, should proceed to 


242 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. a.d. 1430 

the count, learn his designs, and induce him to adopt the 
course that would be most advantageous to the league. The 
-.mbassadors had only reached Ferrara, when they were told 
that Niccolo Piccinino had crossed the Po with six thousand 
horse. This made them travel with increased speed ; and, 
having arrived at Venice, they found the Signory fully re- 
solved that Brescia should be relieved without waiting for 
the return of spring ; for they said that " the city would be 
unable to hold out so long, the fleet could not be in readiness, 
and that seeing no more immediate relief, she would submit 
to the enemy ; which would render the duke universally 
victorious, and cause them to lose the whole of their inland 
possessions." Neri then proceeded to Verona to ascertain 
the count's opinion, who argued, for many reasons, that to 
march to Brescia before the return of spring would be quite 
useless, or even worse ; for the situation of Brescia, being 
considered in conjunction with the season, nothing could be 
expected to result but disorder and fruitless toil to the troops ; 
so that, when the suitable period should arrive, he would be 
compelled to return to Verona with his army, to recover from 
the injuries sustained in the winter, and provide necessaries 
for the summer; and thus the time available for the war 
would be wasted in marching and countermarching. Orsatto 
Justiniani and Giovanni Pisani were deputed on the part of 
Venice to the count at Verona, having been sent to consider 
these affairs, and with them it was agreed that the Venetians 
should pay the count ninety thousand ducats for the coming 
year, and to each of the soldiers forty ducats ; that he should 
set out immediately with the whole army and attack the 
duke, in or ler to compel him, for his own preservation, to 
recall Niccolo into Lombardy. After this agreement the am- 
bassadors returned to Venice ; and the Venetians, having so 
large an amount of money to raise, were very remiss with 
their commissariat. 

In the meantime, Niccolo Piccinino pursued his route, and 
arrived in Romagna, where he prevailed upon the sons of 
Pandolfo Malatesti to desert the Venetians and enter the 
duke's service. This circumstance occasioned much uneasi- 
ness at Venice, and still more at Florence ; for they thought 
that with the aid of the Malatesti they might resist Niccolo ; 
but finding them gone over to the enemy, they were in fear 

n v. en. Gad. 1139. THE COUNT AND THE DOGE. 243 

Itet their captain, Piero Giampagolo Orsini, who was in the 

territories of the Malatesti, should be disarmed and rendered 
powerless. The count also felt alarmed, for, through 
Niccolo's presence in Tuscany, he was afraid of losing La 
: and, urged by a desire to look after his own affairs, 
he hastened to Venice, and being introduced to the Doge, 
informed him that the interests of the league required his 
presence in Tuscany ; for the war ought to be carried on 
where the leader and forces of the enemy were, and not 
where his garrisons and towns were situated ; for when the 
army is vanquished the war is finished ; but to take towns 
and leave the armament entire, usually allowed the war to 
break out again with greater virulence ; that Tuscany and 
La Marca would be lost if Niccolo were not vigorously re- 
sisted ; and that, if lost, there would be no possibility of the 
preservation of Lombardy. But supposing the danger to 
Lombardy not so imminent, he did not intend to abandon his 
own subjects and friends, and that having come into Lom- 
bardy as a prince, he did intend to return a mere condottiere. 
To this the Doge replied, it was quite manifest that, if he 
left Lombardy, or even re-crossed the Po, all their inland 
territories would be lost ; in that case they were unwilling to 
spend any more money in their defence. For it would be 
folly to attempt defending a place which must, after all, inevi- 
tably be lost ; and that it is less disgraceful and less injurious 
to lose dominions only, than to lose both territory and 
money. That if the loss of their inland possessions should 
actually result, it would then be seen how highly important 
to the preservation of Romagna and Tuscany the reputation 
of the Venetians had been. On these accounts they were 
of quite a different opinion from the count; for they saw 
that whoever was victor in Lombardy would be so every- 
where else ; that conquest would be easily attainable now, 
when the territories of the duke were left almost defenceless 
by the departure of Niccolo, and that he would be ruined 
before he could order Niccolo's recall, or provide himself with 
any other remedy ; that whoever attentively considered these 
things would see, that the duke had sent Niccolo into Tus- 
cany for no other reason than to withdraw the count from 
his enterprise, and cause the war, which was now at his own 
door, to be removed to a greater distance. That if the count 

24 1 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. v. ch. 6. a.d. U30. 

were to follow Niccolo, unless at the instigation of some 
very pressing necessity, he would find his plan successful, 
and rejoice in the adoption of it ; but if he were to remain 
in Lombardy, and allow Tuscany to shift for herself, the duke 
would, when too late, see the imprudence of his conduct, 
and find that he had lost his territories in Lombardy and 
gained nothing in Tuscany. Each party having spoken, it 
was determined to wait a few days to see what would result 
from the agreement of the Malatesti with Niccolo ; whether 
the Florentines could avail themselves of Piero Giampagolo, 
and whether the pope intended to join the league with all 
the earnestness he had promised. Not many days after these 
resolutions were adopted, it was ascertained that the Mala- 
testi had made the agreement more from fear than any ill 
will towards the league; that Piero Giampagolo had pro- 
ceeded with his force towards Tuscany, and that the pope 
was more disposed than ever to assist them. This favour- 
able intelligence dissipated the count's fears, and he consented 
to remain in Lombardy, and that Neri Capponi should return 
to Florence with a thousand of his own horse, and five 
hundred from the other parties. It was further agreed, that 
if the affairs of Tuscany should require the count's presence, 
Neri should write to him, and he would proceed thither to 
the exclusion of every other consideration. Neri arrived at 
Florence with his forces in April, and Giampagolo joined 
them the same day. 

In the meantime, Niccolo Piccinino, the affairs of Ro- 
magna being settled, purposed making a descent into Tuscany, 
and designing to go by the mountain passes of San Benedetto 
and the valley of Montone, found them so well guarded by 
the contrivance of Niccolo da Pisa, that his utmost exertions 
would be useless in that direction. As the Florentines, upon 
this sudden attack, were unprovided with troops and officers, 
they had sent into the defiles of these hills many of their 
citizens, with infantry raised upon the emergency to guard 
them, amongst whom was Bartolomeo Orlandini, a cavaliere, 
to whom was entrusted the defence of the castle of Marradi 
and the adjacent passes. Niccolo Piccinino, finding the route 
by San Benedetto impracticable, on account of the bravery 
of its commander, thought the cowardice of the officer who 
defended that of Marradi would render the passage easy. 

'.'.. v. en. G. a.d. 1439. MARRADI. 245 

Tadi is a castle situated at the foot of the mountains 
which separate Tuscany from Romagna ; and, though des- 
titute of walls, the river, the mountains, and the inhabitants, 
make it a place of great strength ; for the peasantry are war- 
like and faithful, and the rapid current undermining the 
banks has left them of such tremendous height that it is im- 
possible to approach it from the valley if a small bridge over 
the stream be defended ; whilst on the mountain side the 
precipices are so steep and perpendicular as to render it 
almost impregnable. In spite of these advantages, the 
pusillanimity of Bartolomeo Orlandini rendered the men 
cowardly and the fortress untenable ; for as soon as he heard 
of the enemy's approach he abandoned the place, fled with 
all his forces, and did not stop till he reached the town of 
San Lorenzo. Niccolo, entering the deserted fortress, won- 
dered it had not been defended, and, rejoicing over his ac- 
quisition, descended into the valley of the Mugello, where he 
took some castles, and halted with his army at Pulicciano. 
Thence he overran the country as far as the mountains of 
Fiesole ; and his audacity so increased that he crossed the 
Arno, plundering and destroying everything to within three 
miles of Florence. 

The Florentines, however, were not dismayed. Their first 
concern was to give security to the government, for which 
they had no cause for apprehension, so universal was the 
good will of the people towards Cosmo ; and, besides this, 
they had restricted the principal offices to a few citizens of 
the highest class, who with their vigilance would have kept 
the populace in order, even if they had been discontented or 
desirous of change. They also knew by the compact made 
in Lombardy what forces Neri would bring with him, and 
expected the troops of the pope. These prospects sustained 
their courage till the arrival of Neri di Gino, who, on account 
of the disorders and fears of the city, determined to set out 
immediately and check Niccolo. With the cavalry he pos- 
sessed, and a body of infantry raised entirely from the people, 
he recovered Remole from the hands of the enemy, where, 
having encamped, he put a stop to all further depredations, 
and gave the inhabitants hopes of repelling the enemy from 
the neighbourhood. Niccolo finding that, although the Flo- 
rentines were without troops, no disturbance had arisen, and 

246 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. v. en. 0. ,v.n. 1139. 

learning what entire composure prevailed in the city, thought 
he was wasting time, and resolved to undertake some other 
enterprise to induce them to send forces after him, and give 
him a chance of coming to an engagement, by means of 
which, if victorious, he trusted everything would succeed to 
his wishes. 

Francesco, Count di Poppi, was in the army of Niccolo, 
having deserted the Florentines, with whom he was in league, 
when the enemy entered the Mugello ; and though with the 
intention of securing him as soon as they had an idea of his 
design, they increased his appointments, and made him com- 
missary over all the places in his vicinity ; still, so powerful 
is the attachment to party, that no benefit or fear could 
eradicate the affection he bore towards Rinaldo and the 
late government ; so that as soon as he knew Niccolo was 
at hand he joined him, and with the utmost solicitude 
entreated him to leave the city and pass into the Casentino, 
pointing out to him the strength of the country, and how 
easily he might thence harass his enemies. Niccolo followed 
his advice, and arriving in the Casentino, took Romena and 
Bibbiena, and then pitched his camp before Castel San Nic- 
colo. This fortress is situated at the foot of the mountains 
which divide the Casentino from the Val d' Arno ; and being 
in an elevated situation, and well garrisoned, it was difficult 
to take, though Niccolo, with catapults and other engines, 
assailed it without intermission. The siege had continued 
more than twenty days, during which the Florentines had 
collected all their forces, having assembled under several 
leaders, three thousand horse, at Fegghine, commanded by 
Piero Giampagolo Orsini, their captain, and Neri Capponi 
and Bernardo de' Medici, commissaries. Four messengers, 
from Castel San Niccolo, were sent to them to entreat suc- 
cour. The commissaries having examined the site, found it 
could not be relieved, except from the Alpine regions, in the 
direction of the Val d' Arno, the summit of which was more 
easily attainable by the enemy than by themselves, on account 
of their greater proximity, and because the Florentines could 
not approach without observation ; so that it would be mak- 
ing a desperate attempt, and might occasion the destruction 
of the forces. The commissaries, therefore, commended their 
fidelity, and ordered that when they could hold out no 

H. v. mi. G.a.d. 1439. ATTEMPT ON CORTONA. 247 

longer, they should surrender. Niccolo took the fortress 
after a siege of thirty-two days ; and the loss of so much 
time, for the attainment of so small an advantage, was the 
principal cause of the failure of his expedition ; for had he 
remained with his forces near Florence, he would have almost 
deprived the government of all power to compel the citi- 
zens to furnish money: nor would they so easily have as- 
sembled forces and taken other precautions, if the enemy 
had been close upon them, as they did while he was at 
a distance. Besides this, many would have been disposed 
to quiet their apprehensions of Niccolo, by concluding a 
peace ; particularly, as the contest was likely to be of 
some duration. The desire of the Count di Poppi to avenge 
himself on the inhabitants of San Niccolo, long his enemies, 
occasioned his advice to Piccinino, who adopted it for the 
purpose of pleasing him ; and this caused the ruin of both. 
It seldom happens, that the gratification of private feelings, 
fails to be injurious to the general convenience. 

Niccolo, pursuing his good fortune, took Rassina and 
Chiusi. The Count di Poppi advised him to halt in these 
parts, arguing that he might divide his people between Chiusi, 
Caprese, and the Pieve, render himself master of this branch 
of the Appennines, and descend at pleasure, into the Casen- 
tino, the Val d' Arno, the Val di Chiane, or the Val di Tavere, 
as well as be prepared for every movement of the enemy. 
But Niccolo, considering the sterility of these places, told him, 
" his horses could not eat stones," and went to the Borgo 
San Sepolcro, where he was amicably received, but found 
that the people of Citta di Castello, who were friendly to the 
Florentines, could not be induced to yield to his overtures. 
Wishing to have Perugia at his disposal, he proceeded thither 
with forty horse, and being one of her citizens, met with a 
kind reception. But in a few days he became suspected, 
and having attempted unsuccessfully to tamper with the 
legate and people of Perugia, he took eight thousand 
ducats from them, and returned to his army. He then set 
on foot secret measures, to seduce Cortona from the Floren- 
tines, but the affair being discovered, hi- attempts were fruit- 
less. Among the principal citizens was Bartolomeo di 
Senso, who being appointed to the evening watch of one 
of the gates, a countryman, his friend, told him, that if he 

218 HISTORY OF FLOREXCE. B. v. ch. 7. a.i>. 1430 

went he would be slain. Bartolomeo, requesting to know 
what was meant, he became acquainted with the whole affaii, 
and revealed it to the governor of the place, who, having se- 
cured the leaders of the conspiracy, and doubled the guards 
at the gates, waited till the time appointed for the coming of 
Niccolo, who finding his purpose discovered, returned to his 


Brescia relieved by Sforza — His other victories — Piccinino is recalled into 
Lombardy — He endeavours to bring the Florentines to an engagement — 
He is routed before Anghiari — Serious disorders in the camp of the 
Florentines after the victory — Death of Rinaldo degli Albizzi — His 
character — Neri Capponi goes to recover the Casentino — The Count di 
1'oppi surrenders — His discourse upon quitting his possessions. 

Whilst these events were taking place in Tuscany, so little 
to the advantage of the duke, his affairs in Lombardy were 
in a still worse condition. The Count Francesco, as soon as 
the season would permit, took the field with his army, and 
the Venetians having again covered the lake with their gal- 
leys, he determined first of all to drive the duke from the 
water ; judging, that this once effected, his remaining task 
would be easy. He, therefore, with the Venetian fleet, at- 
tacked that of the duke, and destroyed it. His land forces 
took the castles held for Filippo, and the ducal troops who 
were besieging Brescia, being informed of these transactions, 
withdrew ; and thus, the city, after standing a three years' 
siege, was at length relieved. The count then went in quest 
of the enemy, whose forces were encamped before Soncino, 
a fortress situated upon the River Oglio ; these he dislodged 
and compelled to retreat to Cremona, where the duke again 
collected his forces, and prepared for his defence. But the 
count constantly pressing him more closely, he became appre- 
hensive of losing either the whole, or the greater part, of his 
territories ; and perceiving the unfortunate step he had taken, 
in sending Xiccolo into Tuscany, in order to correct his error, 

B. v. jh. 7 . a.d. 1439. BATTLE AT ANGHIARI. 249 

ho wrote to acquaint him with what had transpired, desiring 
him, with all possible despatch, to leave Tuscany and return 
to Lombardy. 

In the meantime, the Florentines, under their commissaries, 
had drawn together their forces, and being joined by those 
of the pope, halted at Anghiari, a castle placed at the foot of 
the mountains that divide the Val di Tavere from the Val di 
Chiane, distant four miles from the Borgo San Sepolcro, on a 
level road, and in a country suitable for the evolutions of 
cavalry or a battlefield. As the Signory had heard of the count's 
victory and the recall of Niccolo, they imagined that without 
again drawing a sword or disturbing the dust under their 
horses' feet, the victory was their own and the war at an end, 
they wrote to the commissaries, desiring them to avoid an 
engagement, as Niccolo could not remain much longer in 
Tuscany. These instructions coming to the knowledge of 
Piccinino, and perceiving the necessity of his speedy return, 
to leave nothing unattempted, he determined to engage the 
enemy, expecting to find them unprepared, and not disposed 
for battle. In this determination he was confirmed by Rinaldo, 
the Count di Poppi, and other Florentine exiles, who saw their 
inevitable ruin in the departure of Niccolo, and hoped, that 
if he engaged the enemy, they would either be victorious, or 
vanquished without dishonour. This resolution being adopted, 
Niccolo led his army, unperceived by the enemy, from Citta 
di Castello to the Borgo, where he enlisted two thousand 
men, who, trusting in the general's talents and promises, fol- 
lowed him in hope of plunder. Niccolo then led his forces 
in battle array towards Anghiari, and had arrived within two 
miles of the place, when Micheletto Attendulo observed 
great clouds of dust, and conjecturing at once, that »it must 
be occasioned by the enemy's approach, immediately called 
the troops to arms. Great confusion prevailed in the Floren- 
tine camp, for the ordinary negligence and want of discipline 
were now increased by their presuming the enemy to be at a 
distance, and they were more disposed to flight than to 
battle ; so that every one was unarmed, and some wandering 
from the camp, either led by their desire to avoid the excessive 
heat, or in pursuit of amusement. So great was the diligence 
of the commisaries and of the captain, that before the enemy's 
arrival, the men were mounted and prepared to resist their 

250 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. v. vu. 7. a.d. 1430 

attack ; and as Miclieletto was the first to observe their ap- 
proach, he was also first armed and ready to meet them, and 
with his troops hastened to the bridge which crosses the river 
at a short distance from Anghiari. Pietro Giampagolo hav- 
ing, previously to the surprise, filled up the ditches on either 
side of the road, and levelled the ground between the bridge 
and Anghiari, and Micheletto having taken his position in 
front of the former, the legate and Simoncino, who led the 
troops of the church, took post on the right, and the commis- 
saries of the Florentines, with Pietro Giampagolo, their cap- 
tain, on the left ; the infantry being drawn up along the banks 
of the river. Thus, the only course the enemy could take, 
was the direct one over the bridge ; nor had the Florentines 
any other field for their exertions, excepting that their infan- 
try were ordered, in case their cavalry were attacked in flank 
by the hostile infantry, to assail them with their cross bows, 
and prevent them from wounding the flanks of the horses 
crossing the bridge. Micheletto bravely withstood the 
enemy's charge upon the bridge ; but Astorre and Fran- 
ceso Piccinino coming up, with a picked body of men, at- 
tacked him so vigorously, that he was compelled to give 
way, and was pushed as far as the foot of the hill which 
rises towards the Borgo d' Anghiari ; but they were in turn 
repulsed and driven over the bridge, by the troops that took 
them in flank. The battle continued two hours, during which 
each side had frequent possession of the bridge, and their 
attempts upon it were attended with equal success ; but on 
both sides of the river, the disadvantage of Niccolo was mani- 
fest ; for when his people crossed the bridge, they found the 
enemy unbroken, and the ground being levelled, they could 
manoeuvre without difficulty, and the weary be relieved by such 
as were fresh. But when the Florentines crossed, Niccolo 
could not relieve those that were harassed, on account of the 
hindrance interposed by the ditches and embankments on 
each side of the road ; thus whenever his troops got posses- 
sion of the bridge, they were soon repulsed by the fresh 
forces of the Florentines ; but when the bridge was taken 
by the Florentines, and they passed over and proceeded upon 
the road, Niccolo having no opportunity to reinforce his 
troops, being prevented by the impetuosity of the enemy and 
the inconvenience of the ground, the rear-guard became 

a.d. 1430. NTCCOLO DEFEATED. 251 

mingled with (he van, and occasioned the utmost confusion 
and disorder ; they were forced to flee, and hastened at 
full speed towards the Borgo. The Florentine troops fell 
upon the plunder, which was very valuable in horses, pri- 
soners, and military stores, for not more than a thousand of 
the enemy's cavalry reached the town. The people of the 
Borgo, who had followed Niccolo in the hope of plunder, be- 
came booty themselves, all of them being taken, and obliged 
to pay a ransom. The colours and carriages were also cap- 
tured. This victory was much more advantageous to the 
Florentines than injurious to the duke ; for, had they been 
conquered, Tuscany would have been his own ; but he, by 
his defeat, only lost the horses and accoutrements of his 
army, which could be re-placed without any very serious ex- 
pense. Nor was there ever an instance of wars being carried 
on in an enemy's country with less injury to the assailants 
than at this ; for in so great a defeat, and in a battle which 
continued four hours, only one man died, and he, not from 
wounds inflicted by hostile weapons, or any honourable 
means, but, having fallen from his horse, was trampled to 
death. Combatants then engaged with little danger ; being 
nearly all mounted, covered with armour, and preserved from 
death whenever they chose to surrender, there was no neces- 
sity for risking their lives ; while fighting, their armour de- 
fended them, and when they could resist no longer, they 
yielded and were safe. 

This battle, from the circumstances which attended and 
followed it, presents a striking example of the wretched state 
of military discipline in those times. The enemy's forces 
being defeated and driven into the Borgo, the commissaries 
desired to pursue them, in order to make the victory com- 
plete, but not a single condottiere or soldier would obey, 
alleging, as a sufficient reason for their refusal, that they 
must take care of the booty and attend to their wounded ; 
and, what is still more surprising, the next day, without per- 
mission from the commissaries, or the least regard for their 
commanders, they went to Arezzo, and, having secured their 
plunder, returned to Anghiari ; a thing so contrary to military 
order and all subordination, that the merest shadow of a 
regular army would easily and most justly have wrested from 
them the victory they had so undeservedly obtained. Added 

252 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. v. ch. 7. a.d. 1439. 

to this, the men-at-arms, or heavy-armed horse, who had 
been taken prisoners, whom the commissaries wished to be 
detained that they might not rejoin the enemy, were set at 
liberty, contrary to their orders. It is astonishing, that an 
army so constructed should have sufficient energy to obtain 
the victory, or that any should be found so imbecile as 
to allow such a disorderly rabble to vanquish them. The 
time occupied by the Florentine forces in going and returning 
from Arezzo, gave Niccolo opportunity of escaping from the 
Borgo, and proceeding towards Romagna. Along with him 
also fled the Florentine exiles, who, finding no hope of their 
return home, took up their abodes in various parts of Italy, 
each according to his own convenience. Rinaldo made choice 
of Ancona ; and, to gain admission to the celestial country, 
having lost the terrestrial, he performed a pilgrimage to the 
holy sepulchre ; whence having returned, he died suddenly 
whilst at table at the celebration of the marriage of one of 
his daughters ; an instance of fortune's favour, in removing 
him from the troubles of this world upon the least sorrowful 
day of his exile. Rinaldo d'Albizzi appeared respectable 
under every change of condition ; and would have been more 
so had he lived in a united city, for many qualities were in- 
jurious to him in a factious community, which in an har- 
monious one would have done him honour. 

When the forces returned from Arezzo, Niccolo being then 
gone, the commissaries presented themselves at the Borgo, 
the people of which were willing to submit to the Floren- 
tines ; but their offer was declined, and whilst negotiations 
were pending, the pope's legate imagined the commissaries 
designed to take it from the church. Hard words were ex- 
changed, and hostilities might have ensued between the 
Florentine and ecclesiastical forces, if the misunderstanding 
had continued much longer ; but as it was brought to the 
conclusion desired by the legate, peace was restored. 

Whilst the affair of the Borgo San Sepolcro was in pro- 
gress, Niccolo Piccinino was supposed to have marched to- 
wards Rome ; other accounts said La Marca, and hence the 
legate and the count's forces moved towards Perugia to 
relieve La Marca or Rome, as the case might be, and Ber- 
nardo de' Medici accompanied them. Neri led the Floren- 
tine forces to recover the Casentino, and pitched his camp 

u. v. ch. 7. a.d. 1439. POPPI SURRENDERS. 253 

before Rassina, which he took, together with Bibblena, Prato 
Yecchio, and Romena. From thence he proceeded to Poppi 
and invested it on two sides with his forces, in one direction 
towards the plain of Certomondo, in the other upon the hill 
extending to Fronzole. The count finding himself abandoned 
to his fate, had shut himself up in Poppi, not with any hope 
of assistance, but with a view to make the best terms he 
could. Neri pressing him, he offered to capitulate, and ob- 
d reasonable conditions, namely, security for himself and 
family, with leave to take whatever he could carry away, 
on condition of ceding his territories and government to the 
Florentines. When he perceived the full extent of his mis- 
fortune, standing upon the bridge which crosses the Arno, 
close to Poppi, he turned to Neri in great distress, and 
said, " Had I well considered my own position and the 
power of the Florentines, I should now have been a friend 
of the republic and congratulating you on your victory, 
not an enemy compelled to supplicate some alleviation of 
my woe. The recent events which to you bring glory and 
joy, to me are full of wretchedness and sorrow. Once I 
possessed horses, arms, subjects, grandeur, and wealth : can 
it be surprising that I part with them reluctantly ? But 
as you possess both the power and the inclination to com- 
mand the whole of Tuscany, we must of necessity obey 
you ; and had I not committed this error, my misfortune 
would not have occurred, and your liberality could not 
have been exercised ; so, that if you were to rescue me from 
entire ruin, you would give the world a lasting proof of 
your clemency. Therefore, let your pity pass by my fault, 
and allow me to retain this single house to leave to the 
descendants of those from whom your fathers have received 
innumerable benefits." To this Neri replied : " That his 
having expected great results from men who were capable 
of doing only very little, had led him to commit so great a 
fault against the republic of Florence ; that, every circum- 
stance considered, he must surrender all those places to the 
Florentines, as an enemy, which he was unwilling to hold as a 
friend : that he had set such an example, as it would be most 
highly impolitic to encourage ; for, upon a change of fortune, it 
might injure the republic, and it was not himself they feared, 
but his power whilst lord of the Casentino. If, however, he 

254 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. rr. ch. I.a.d.1439. 

could live as a prince in Germany, the citizens would be very 
much gratified ; and out of love to those ancestors of whom 
he had spoken, they would be glad to assist him." To 
this, the count, in great anger, replied : " He wished the 
Florentines at a much greater distance." Attempting no 
longer to preserve the least urbanity of demeanour, he ceded 
the place and all his dependencies to the Florentines, and 
with his treasure, wife, and children, took his departure, 
mourning the loss of a territory which his forefathers had 
held during four hundred years. When all these victories 
were known at Florence, the government and people were 
transported with joy. Benedetto de' Medici, finding the re- 
port of Niccolo having proceeded either to Rome or to La 
Marca, incorrect, returned with his forces to Neri, and they 
proceeded together to Florence, where the highest honours 
were decreed to them which it was customary with the city to 
bestow upon her victorious citizens, and they were received 
by the Signory, the Capitani di Parte, and the whole city, in 
triumphal pomp. 



Reflections on the object of war and the use of victory — Niccolo reinforces 
his army — The duke of Milan endeavours to recover the services of Count 
Francesco Sforza — Suspicions of theVenetians — They acquire Ravenna — 
The Florentines purchase the Borgo San Sepolcro of the pope — Piccinino 
makes an excursion during the winter — The count besieged in his camp 
before Martinen.o — The insolence of Niccolo Piccinini — The duke in 
revenge makes peace with the league — Sforza assisted by the Floren- 

Those who make war have always and very naturally de- 
signed to enrich themselves and impoverish the enemy ; 
neither is victory sought or conquest desirable, excepting to 
strengthen themselves and weaken the enemy. Hence it 

b. vr. ch. 1. a.d. 1430. REFLECTIONS ON WAR. 25-5 

follows, that those who are impoverished by victory or debi- 
litated by conquest, must either have gone beyond, or fallen 
short of, the end for which wars are made. A republic or a 
prince is enriched by the victories he obtains, when the 
enemy is crushed and possession is retained of the plunder 
and ransom. Victory is injurious when the foe escapes, 
or when the soldiers appropriate the booty and ransom. 
In such a case, losses are unfortunate, and conquests still 
more so ; for the vanquished sutlers the injuries inflicted by the 
enemy, and the victor those occasioned by his friends, which 
being less justifiable, must cause the greater pain, particu- 
larly from a consideration of his being thus compelled to 
oppress his people by an increased burden of taxation. A 
ruler possessing any degree of humanity, cannot rejoice in a 
victory that afflicts his subjects. The victories of the ancient 
and well organized republics, enabled them to fill their treasu- 
ries with gold and silver won from their enemies, to dis- 
tribute gratuities to the people, reduce taxation, and by games 
and solemn festivals, disseminate universal joy. But the 
victories obtained in the times of which we speak, first 
emptied the treasury, and then impoverished the people, 
without giving the victorious party security from the enemy. 
This arose entirely from the disorders inherent in their mode 
of warfare ; for the vanquished soldiery, divesting them- 
selves of their accoutrements, and being neither slain nor 
detained prisoners, only deferred a renewed attack on the 
conqueror, till their leader had furnished them with arms and 
horses. Besides this, both ransom and booty being appro- 
priated by the troops, the victorious princes could not make 
use of them for raising fresh forces, but were compelled to 
draw the necessary means from their subjects' purses, and 
this was the only result of victory experienced by the people, 
except that it diminished the ruler's reluctance to such a 
course, and made him less particular about his mode of op- 
pressing them. To such a state had the practice of war been 
brought by the sort of soldiery then on foot, that the victor 
and the vanquished, when desirous of their services, alike 
needed fresh supplies of money ; for the one had to re- 
equip them, and the other to bribe them ; the vanquished 
could not tight without being re-mounted, and the conquerors 
would not take the field without a new gratuity. Hence it 

256 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. vi. ch. 1. a.d. 143a 

followed, that the one derived little advantage from the vic- 
tory, and the other was the less injured by defeat ; for the 
routed party had to be re-equipped, and the victorious could 
not pursue his advantage. 

From this disorderly and perverse method of procedure, 
it arose, that before Niccolo's defeat became known through- 
out Italy, he had again re-organized his forces, and harassed 
the enemy with greater vigour than before. Hence, also, it 
happened, that after his disaster atTenna, he so soon occupied 
Verona ; that being deprived of his army at Verona, he was 
shortly able to appear with a large force in Tuscany ; that 
being completely defeated at Anghiari, before he reached 
Tuscany, he was more powerful in the field than ever. He 
was thus enabled to give the duke of Milan hopes of defend- 
ing Lombardy, which by his absence appeared to be lost ; 
for whilst Niccolo spread consternation throughout Tuscany, 
disasters in the former province so alarmed the duke, that he 
was afraid his utter ruin would ensue before Niccolo, whom 
he had recalled, could come to his relief, and check the im- 
petuous progress of the count. Under these impressions, 
the duke, to ensure by policy that success which he could 
not command by arms, had recourse to remedies, which on 
similar occasions had frequently served his turn. He sent 
Niccolo da Esti, prince of Ferrara, to the count who was 
then at Peschiera, to persuade him, " That this war was not 
to his advantage ; for if the duke became so ruined as to be 
unable to maintain his position amongst the states of Italy, 
the count would be the first to suffer ; for he would cease to 
be of any importance either with the Venetians or the Flo- 
rentines ; and to prove the sincerity of his wish for peace, 
he offered to fulfil the engagement he had entered into with 
regard to his daughter, and send her to Ferrara ; so that as 
soon as peace was established, the union might take place." 
The count replied, " That if the duke really wished for 
peace, he might easily be gratified, as the Florentines and 
the Venetians were equally anxious for it. True, it was, he 
could with difficulty credit him, knowing that he had never 
made peace but from necessity, and when this no longer 
pressed him, again desired war. Neither could he give 
credence to what he had said concerning the marriage, hav- 
ing been so repeatedly deceived ; yet, when peace was con- 

B. vr. ch. 1. a.d. 1439. THE VENETIANS JEALOUS. 257 

eluded, he would take the advice of his friends upon that 

The Venetians, who were sometimes needlessly jealous of 
their soldiery, became greatly alarmed at these proceedings ; 
and not without reason. The count was aware of this, and 
wishing to remove their apprehensions, pursued the war with 
unusual vigour ; but his mind had become so unsettled, by 
ambition, and the Venetians' by jealousy, that little further 
progress was made during the remainder of the summer, and 
upon the return of Niccolo into Lombardy, winter having 
already commenced, the armies withdrew into quarters, the 
count to Verona, the Florentine forces to Tuscany, the duke's 
to Cremona, and those of the pope to Romagna. The latter, 
after having been victorious at Anghiari, made an unsuc- 
cessful attack upon Furli and Bologna, with a view to wrest 
them from Niccolo Piccinino ; but they were gallantly de- 
fended by his son Francesco. However, the arrival of the 
papal forces so alarmed the people of Ravenna with the fear 
of becoming subject to the church, that, by consent of 
Ostasio di Polenta their lord, they placed themselves under 
the power of the Venetians ; who, in return for the territory, 
and that Ostasio might never retake by force what he had 
imprudently given them, sent him and his son to Candia, 
where they died. In the course of these affairs, the pope, 
notwithstanding the victory at Anghiari, became so in want 
of money, that he sold the fortress of Borgo San Sepolcro to 
the Florentines for 25,000 ducats. 

Affairs being thus situated, each party supposed winter 
would protect them from the evils of war, and thought no 
more of peace. This was particularly the case with the 
duke, who, being rendered doubly secure by the season and 
by the presence of Niccolo, broke off all attempts to effect 
an accommodation with the count, re-organized Niccolo's 
forces, and made every requisite preparation for the future 
struggle. The count being informed of this, went to Venice 
to consult with the senate on the course to be pursued during 
the next year. Niccolo, on the other hand, being quite pre- 
pared, and seeing the enemy unprovided, did not await the 
return of spring, but crossed the Adda during severe weather, 
occupied the whole Brescian territory, except Oddula and 
Acri, and made prisoners two thousand horse belonging to 

258 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. vi. ch. 1. a.d. 1440. 

Francesco's forces, who had no apprehension of an attack. 
But the greatest source of anxiety to the count, and alarm 
to the Venetians, was the desertion of his service by Ciar- 
pellone, one of his principal officers. Francesco, on learning 
these matters, immediately left Venice, and, arriving at 
Brescia, found that Niccolo, after doing all the mischief 
he could, had retired to his quarters ; and therefore, find- 
ing the war concluded for the present, was not disposed to 
re-kindle it, but rather to use the opportunity afforded by the 
season and his enemies, of re-organizing his forces, so as 
to be able, when spring arrived, to avenge himself for former 
injuries. To this end he induced the Venetians to recall the 
forces they had in Tuscany, in the Florentine service, and to 
order that to succeed Gattamelata, who was dead, Micheletto 
Attendulo should take the command. 

On the approach of spring, Niccolo Piccinino was the first 
to take the field, and encamped before Cignano, a fortress 
twelve miles from Brescia ; the count marched to its relief, 
and the war between them was conducted in the usual man- 
ner. The count, apprehensive for the city of Bergamo, be- 
sieged Martinengo, a castle so situated that the possession of 
it would enable him to relieve the former, which was closely 
pressed by Niccolo, who, having foreseen that the enemy 
could impede him only from the direction of Martinengo, had 
put the castle into a complete state of defence, so that the 
count was obliged to lend his whole force to the siege. Upon 
this, Niccolo placed his troops in a situation calculated to 
intercept the count's provisions, and fortified himself with 
trenches and bastions in such a manner that he could not be 
attacked without the most manifest hazard to his assailant. 
Hence the besiegers were more distressed than the people of 
Martinengo whom they besieged. The count could not hold 
his position for want of food, nor quit it without imminent 
danger ; so that the duke's victory appeared certain, and 
defeat equally inevitable to the count and the Venetians. 

But fortune, never destitute of means to assist her fa- 
vourites, or to injure others, caused the hope of victory to 
operate so powerfully upon Niccolo Piccinino, and made him 
assume such a tone of unbounded insolence, that, losing all 
respect for himself and the duke, he sent him word that, 
having served under his ensign so long, without obtaining 

B. vi. ch. 1. a.d. 1441. PEACE CONCLUDED. 259 

sufficient land to serve him for a grave, he wished to know 
from himself what was to be the reward of his labours ; for 
it was in his power to make him master of Lombardy, and 
place all his enemies in his power ; and, as a certain vic- 
tory ought to be attended by a sure remuneration, he de- 
sired the duke to concede to him the city of Piacenza, that 
when weary with his lengthened services he might at last 
betake himself to repose. Nor did he hesitate, in con- 
clusion", to threaten, if his request were not granted, to 
abandon the enterprise. This injurious and most insolent 
mode of proceeding highly offended the duke, and, on 
further consideration, he determined rather to let the expe- 
dition altogether fail, than consent to his general's demand. 
Thus, what all the dangers he had incurred, and the threats 
of his enemies, could not draw from him, the insolent beha- 
viour of his friends made him willing to propose. He re- 
solved to come to terms with the count, and sent Antonio 
Guido Buono of Tortona, to offer his daughter and conditions 
of peace, which were accepted with great pleasure by the 
count, and also by the colleagues as far as themselves were 
concerned. The terms being secretly arranged, the duke 
sent to command Niccolo to make a truce with the count for 
one year ; intimating, that being exhausted with the expense, 
he could not forego a certain peace for a doubtful victory. 
Niccolo was utterly astonished at this resolution, and could 
not imagine what had induced the duke to lose such a glorious 
opportunity ; nor could he surmise that, to avoid reward- 
ing his friends, he would save his enemies, and therefore 
to the utmost of his power he opposed this resolution ; 
and the duke was obliged, in order to induce his compliance, 
to threaten that if he did not obey he would give him up to 
his soldiers and his enemies. Niccolo submitted, but with 
the feelings of one compelled to leave country and friends, 
complaining of his hard fate, that fortune and the duke were 
robbing him of the victory over his enemies. The truce 
being arranged, the marriage of the duke's daughter, Bianca. 
to the count was solemnized, the duke giving Cremona 
for her portion. This being over, peace was concluded 
in November, 1441, at which Francesco Barbadico and 
Pagolo Trono were present for the Venetians, and for the 
Florentines Agnolo Acciajuoli. Peschiera, Asola, and 

260 HISTORY t)F TLOKE-NCE. B. vi. ch. 1. a.d. 1441. 

Lonato, castles in the Mantuan territory, were assigned to 
the Venetians. 

The war in Lombardy was concluded ; but the dissensions 
in the kingdom of Naples continued, and the inability to 
compose them occasioned the resumption of those arms 
which had been so recently laid aside. Alfonso, of Arragon, 
had, during these wars, taken from Rene the whole king- 
dom except Naples ; so that, thinking he had the victory 
in his power, he resolved during the siege of Naples to take 
Benevento, and his other possessions in that neighbourhood, 
from the count ; and thought he might easily accomplish 
this while the latter was engaged in the wars of Lombardy. 
Having heard of the conclusion of peace, Alfonso feared 
the count would not only come for the purpose of recovering 
his territories, but also to favour Rene ; and Rene himself 
had hope of his assistance for the same reason. The latter, 
therefore, sent to the count, begging he would come to the 
relief of a friend, and avenge himself of an enemy. On 
the other hand, Alfonso entreated Filippo, for the sake of 
the friendship which subsisted between them, to find the 
count some other occupation, that, being engaged in greater 
affairs, he might not have an opportunity of interfering 
between them. Filippo complied with this request, with- 
out seeming to be aware that he violated the peace recently 
made, so greatly to his disadvantage. He therefore signified 
to pope Eugenius, that the present was a favourable opportu- 
nity for recovering the territories which the count had taken 
from the church ; and, that he might be in a condition to use 
it, offered him the services of Niccolo Piccinino, and engaged 
to pay him during the war ; who, since the peace of Lombardy, 
had remained with his forces in Romagna. Eugenius eagerly 
took the advice, induced by his hatred of the count, and his 
desire to recover his lost possessions ; feeling assured that, 
although on a former occasion he had been duped by Niccolo, 
it would be improper, now that the duke interfered, to suspect 
any deceit ; and, joining his forces to those of Niccolo, he 
assailed La Marca. The count, astonished at such an unex- 
pected attack, assembled his troops, and went to meet the 
enemy. In the meantime, King Alfonso took possession of 
Naples, so that the whole kingdom, except Castelnuova, was 
in his power. Leaving a strong guard at Castelnuova, Rene 

B. vt. ch. 1. a.d. 1442. KING ALFONSO. 261 

set out and came to Florence, where he was most honourably 
received ; and having remained a few days, finding he could 
not continue the war, he withdrew to Marseilles. 

In the meantime, Alfonso took Castelnuova, and the count 
found himself assailed in the Marca Inferiore, both by the 
pope and Niccolo. He applied to the Venetians and the 
Florentines for assistance, in men and money, assuring them 
that if they did not determine to restrain the pope and 
king, during his life, they would soon afterwards find their 
very existence endangered, for both would join Filippo and 
divide Italy among them. The Florentines and Venetians 
hesitated for a time, both to consider the propriety of drawing 
upon themselves the enmity of the pope and the king, and 
because they were then engaged in the affairs of the Bolog- 
nese. Annibale Bentivoglio had driven Francesco Piccinino 
from Bologna, and for defence against the duke, who favoured 
Francesco, he demanded and received assistance of the 
Venetians and Florentines ; so that, being occupied with 
these matters, they could not resolve to assist the count, but 
Annibale, having routed Francesco Piccinino, and those 
affairs seeming to be settled, they resolved to support him. 
Designing, however, to make sure of the duke, they offered 
to renew the league with him, to which he was not averse ; 
for, although he consented that war should be made against 
the count, whilst King Rene was in arms, yet finding him now 
conquered, and deprived of the whole kingdom, he was not 
willing that the count should be despoiled of his territories ; 
and therefore, not only consented that assistance should be 
given him, but wrote to Alfonso to be good enough to retire 
to his kingdom, and discontinue hostilities against the count ; 
and although reluctantly, yet in acknowledgment of his obli- 
gations to the duke, Alfonso determined to satisfy him, and 
withdrew with his forces beyond the Tronto. 

262 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. vi. ch. 2. A.r>. 1442. 


Discords of Florence — Jealousy excited against Neri di Gino Capponi — 
Baldaccio d'Anghiari murdered — Reform of government in favour of 
the Medici — Enterprises of Sforza and Piccinino — Death of Niccolo 
Piccinino — End of the war — Disturbances in Bologna — Annibale Ben- 
tivoglio slain by Battista Canneschi, and the latter by the people — 
Santi, supposed to be the son of Ercole Bentivoglio, is called to govern 
the city of Bologna — Discourse of Cosmo de' Medici to him — Per- 
fidious designs of the duke of Milan against Sforza — General war in 
Italy — Losses of the duke of Milan — The duke has recourse to the 
count, who makes peace with him — Offers of the duke and the Venetians 
to the count — The Venetians furtively deprive the count of Cremona. 

Whilst the affairs of Romagna proceeded thus, the city of 
Florence was not tranquil. Among the citizens of highest 
reputation in the government, was Neri di Gino Capponi, of 
whose influence Cosmo de' Medici had more apprehension 
than any other ; for to the great authority which he pos- 
sessed in the city was added his influence with the sol- 
diery. Having been often leader of the Florentine forces 
he had won their affection by his courage and talents ; and 
the remembrance of his own and his father's victories (the 
latter having taken Pisa, and he himself having overcome 
Niccolo Piccinino at Anghiari) caused him to be beloved by 
many, and feared by those who were averse to having asso- 
ciates in the government. Among the leaders of the Flo- 
rentine army was Baldaccio d'Anghiari, an excellent soldier, 
for in those times there was not one in Italy surpassed him in 
vigour either of body or mind ; and possessing so much influ- 
ence with the infantry, whose leader he had always been, many 
thought they would follow him wherever he chose to lead them. 
Baldaccio was the intimate friend of Neri, who loved him for 
his talents, of which he had been a constant witness. This 
excited great suspicion in the other citizens, who, thinking it 
alike dangerous either to discharge or retain him in their 
service, determined to destroy him, and fortune seemed to 
favour their design. Bartolommeo Orlandini was Gonfalonier 
of Justice ; the same person who was sent to the defence of 
Marradi, when Niccolo Piccinino came into Tuscany, as we 
have related above, and so basely abandoned the pass, which 
by its nature was almost impregnable. So flagrant an in- 2. A.n. 1443. MURDER OF BALDACCIO. 263 

stance of cowardice was very offensive to Baldaccio, who, 
on many occasions, both by words and letters, had contri- 
buted to make the disgraceful fact known to all. The 
shame and vexation of Bartolommeo were extreme, so that 
of all things he wished to avenge himself, thinking, with the 
death of his accuser, to efface the stain upon his character. 

This feeling of Bartolommeo Orlandini was known to 
other citizens, so that they easily persuaded him to put 
Baldaccio to death, and at once avenge himself, and de- 
liver his country from a man whom they must either re- 
tain at great peril, or discharge to their greater confusion. 
Bartolommeo having therefore resolved to murder him, con- 
cealed in his own apartment at the palace several young 
men, all armed ; and Baldaccio, entering the piazza, whither 
it was his daily custom to come, to confer with the magis- 
trates concerning his command, the Gonfalonier sent for him, 
and he, without any suspicion, obeyed. Meeting him in the 
corridor, which leads to the chambers of the Signory, they 
took a few turns together discoursing of his office, when, 
being close to the door of the apartment in which the assassins 
were concealed, Bartolommeo gave them the signal, upon 
which they rushed out, and finding Baldaccio alone and un- 
armed, they slew him, and threw the body out of the window 
which looks from the palace towards the dogano, or custom- 
house. It was thence carried into the piazza, where the 
head being severed, it remained the whole day exposed to 
the gaze of the people. Baldaccio was married, and had 
only one child, a boy, who survived him but a short time ; 
and his wife, Annalena, thus deprived of both husband 
and offspring, rejected every proposal for a second union. 
She converted her house into a monastery, to which she with- 
drew, and, being joined by many noble ladies, lived in holy 
seclusion to the end of her days. The convent she founded, 
and which is named from her, preserves her story in per- 
petual remembrance. 

This circumstance served to weaken Neri's power, and 
made him to lose both influence and friends. Nor did this 
satisfy the citizens who held the reins of government ; for it 
being ten years since their acquisition of power, and the 
authority of the Balia expired, many began to exhibit more 
boldness, both in words and deeds, than seemed consistent 

264 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. vi. ch. 2. a.i>. 1444, 

with their safety ; and the leaders of the party judged, that 
if they wished to preserve their influence, some means must 
be adopted to increase it. To this end, in 1444 the councils 
created a new Balia, which reformed the government, gave 
authority to a limited number to create the Signory, re-es- 
tablished the Chancery of Reformations, depriving Filippo 
Peruzzi of his office of president in it, and appointing another 
wholly under their influence. They prolonged the term of 
exile to those who were banished ; put Giovanni di Simone 
Vespucci in prison ; deprived the Accoppiatori of their 
enemies of the honours of government, and with them the 
sons of Piero Baroncelli, the whole of the Seragli, Barto- 
lommeo Fortini, Francesco Castellani, and many others. By 
these means they strengthened their authority and influence, 
and humbled their enemies, or those whom they suspected of 
being so. 

Having thus recovered and confirmed their government, 
they then turned their attention to external affairs. As ob- 
served above, Niccolo Piccinino was abandoned by King 
Alfonso, and the count having been aggrandized by the 
assistance of the Florentines, attacked and routed him near 
Fermo, where, after losing nearly the whole of his troops, 
Niccolo fled to Montecchio, which he fortified in such a 
manner that in a short time he had again assembled so large 
an army as enabled him to make head against the count ; par- 
ticularly as the season was now come for them to withdraw 
into quarters. His principal endeavour during the winter 
was to collect troops, and in this he was assisted both by the 
pope and Alfonso ; so that, upon the approach of spring, 
both leaders took the field, and Niccolo, being the strongest, 
reduced the count to extreme necessity, and would have con- 
quered him if the duke had not contrived to frustrate his 
designs. Filippo sent to beg he would come to him with all 
speed, for he wished to have a personal interview, that he 
might communicate matters of the highest importance. 
Niccolo, anxious to hear them, abandoned a certain victory 
for a very doubtful advantage ; and leaving his son Francesco 
to command the army, hastened to Milan. The count being 
informed of the circumstance, would not let slip the oppor- 
tunity of fighting in the absence of Niccolo ; and, coming to 
an engagement near the castle of Monte Loro, routed the 

B. vi ch. 2. a.d 1445. DEATH OF PICCOLO. 265 

father's forces and took the son prisoner. Niccolo having 
arrived at Milan saw that the duke had duped him, and 
learning the defeat of his army and the capture of his son, 
he died of grief in 1445, at the age of sixty-four, having been 
a brave rather than a fortunate leader. He left two sons, 
Francesco and Jacopo, who, possessing less talent than their 
father, were still more unfortunate ; so that the arms of the 
family became almost annihilated, whilst those of Sforza, 
being favoured by fortune, attained augmented glory. The 
pope, seeing Niccolo's army defeated and himself dead, 
having little hope of assistance from Arragon, sought peace 
with the count, and, by the intervention of the Florentines, 
succeeded. Of La Marca, the pope only retained Osimo, 
Fabriano, and Recanati ; all the rest remained in the count's 

Peace being restored to La Marca, the whole of Italy 
would have obtained repose had it not been disturbed by the 
Bolognese. There were in Bologna two very powerful 
families, the Canneschi and the Bentivogli. Of the latter, 
Annibale was the head ; of the former, Battista, who, as a 
means of confirming their mutual confidence, had contracted 
family alliances ; but amongst men who have the same objects' (^w^ 31 
of ambition in view, it is easy to form connexions, but diffi- 
cult to establish friendship. The Bolognese were in a league \ 
with the Venetians and Florentines, which had been effected by 
the influence of Annibale, after they had driven out Francesco 
Piccinino ; and Battista, knowing how earnestly the duke 
desired to have the city favourable to him, proposed to assas- 
sinate Annibale, and put Bologna into his power. This being 
agreed upon, on the 25th June, 1445, he attacked Annibale 
with his men, and slew him ; and then, with shouts of " the 
duke, the duke," rode through the city. The Venetian and 
Florentine commissaries were in Bologna at the time, and at 
first kept themselves within doors ; but finding that the 
people, instead of favouring the murderers, assembled in the 
piazza, armed and in great numbers, mourning the death of 
Annibale, they joined them ; and, assembling what forces 
they could, attacked the Canneschi, soon overpowered them, 
slew part, and drove the remainder out of the city. Battista, 
unable to effect his escape, or his enemies his capture, took 
refuge in a vault of his house, used for storing grain. The 

266 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. vi. ch. 2. A D. 1445. 

friends of the Bentivogli, having sought him ail day, and 
knowing he had not left the city, so terrified his servants, 
that one of them, a groom, disclosed the place of his con- 
cealment, and being drawn forth in complete armour he was 
slain, his body dragged about the streets, and afterwards 
burnt. Thus the duke's authority was sufficient to prompt 
the enterprise, but his force was not at hand to support it. 

The tumults being settled by the death of Battista, and 
the flight of the Canneschi, Bologna still remained in the 
greatest confusion. There not being one of the house of 
Bentivogli of age to govern, Annibale having left but one 
son, whose name was Giovanni, only six years old, it was 
apprehended that disunion would ensue amongst the Benti- 
vogli, and cause the return of the Canneschi, and the ruin 
both of their own country and party. Whilst in this state 
of apprehension, Francesco, sometime Count di Poppi, being 
at Bologna, informed the rulers of the city, that if they 
wished to be governed by one of the blood of Annibale, he 
could tell them of one ; and related that about twenty years 
ago, Ercole, cousin of Annibale, being at Poppi, became 
acquainted with a girl of the castle, of whom was born 
a son named Santi, whom Ercole, on many occasions, ac- 
knowledged to be his own, nor could he deny it, for who- 
ever knew him and saw the boy, could not fail to observe 
the strongest resemblance. The citizens gave credit to the 
tale, and immediately sent to Florence to see the young man, 
and procure of Cosmo and Neri permission to return with 
him to Bologna. The reputed father of Santi was dead, and 
he lived under the protection of his uncle, whose name was 
Antonio da Cascese. Antonio was rich, childless, and a friend 
of Neri, to whom the matter becoming known, he thought 
it ought neither to be despised nor too hastily accepted ; 
and that it would be best for Santi and those who had been 
sent from Bologna, to confer in the presence of Cosmo. 
They were accordingly introduced, and Santi was not merely 
honoured but adored by them, so greatly were they influ- 
enced by the spirit of party. However, nothing was done at 
the time, except that Cosmo, taking Santi apart, spoke to 
him thus : " No one can better advise you in this matter than 
yourself; for you have to take that course to which your 
own mind prompts you. If you be the son of Ercole Ben- CH.2.A.D. 1445. WA& BfJNEWED. 267 

tivoglio, you will naturally aspire to those pursuits which are 
proper to your family and worthy of your father ; but if you 
be the son of Agnolo da Cascese, you will remain in Florence, 
and basely spend the remainder of your days in some branch 
of the woollen trade." These words greatly influenced the 
youth, who, though he had at first almost refused to adopt 
such a course, said, he would submit himself wholly to what 
Cosmo and Neri should determine. They, assenting to the 
request of the Bolognese, provided suitable apparel, horses, 
and servants ; and in a few days he was escorted by a 
numerous cavalcade to Bologna, where the guardianship of 
Annibale's son and of the city were placed in his hands. 
He conducted himself so prudently, that although all his 
ancestors had been slain by their enemies, he lived in peace 
and died respected by every one. 

After the death of Niccolo Piccinino and the peace of La 
Marca, Filippo wishing to procure a leader of his forces, 
secretly negotiated with Ciarpellone, one of the principal 
captains of Count Francesco, and arrangements having 
been made, Ciarpellone asked permission to go to Milan to 
take possession of certain cables which had been given him 
by Filippo during the late wars. The count suspecting what 
was in progress, in order to prevent the duke from ac- 
commodating himself at his expense, caused Ciarpellone to 
be arrested, and soon afterwards put to doath ; alleging that 
he had been detected plotting against him. Filippo was 
highly annoyed and indignant, which the Venetians and the 
Florentines were glad to observe, for their greatest fear was, 
that the duke and the count should become friends. 

The duke's anger caused the renewal of war in La Marca. 
Gismondo Malatesti, lord of Rimino, being son-in-law of the 
count, expected to obtain Pesaro ; but the count, having 
obtained possession, gave it to his brother, Alessandro. 
Gismondo, offended at this, was still further exasperated by 
finding that Federigo di Montefeltro, his enemy, by the 
count's assistance, gained possession of Urbino. He there- 
fore joined the duke, and solicited the pope and the king to 
make war against the count, who, to give Gismondo a taste 
of the war he so much desired, resolved to take the initi- 
ative, and attacked him immediately. Thus Romagna and 
La Marca were again in complete confusion, for Filippo, the 

268 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. vi. ch. 2. a.d. 1445. 

king, and the pope, sent powerful assistance to Gismondo, 
whilst the Florentines and Venetians supplied the count with 
money, though not with men. Nor was Filippo satisfied 
with the war in Romagna, but also desired to take Cremona 
and Pontremoli from the count; but Pontremoli was de- 
fended by the Florentines, and Cremona by the Venetians. 
Thus the war was renewed in Lombardy, and after several 
engagements in the Cremonese, Francesco Piccinino, the 
leader of the duke's forces, was routed at Casale, by Michel- 
etto and the Venetian troops. This victory gave the Vene- 
tians hope of obtaining the duke's dominions. They sent a 
commissary to Cremona, attacked the Ghiaradadda, and took 
the whole of it, except Crema. Then crossing the Adda, 
they overran the country as far as Milan. Upon this the 
duke had recourse to Alfonso, and entreated his assistance, 
pointing out the danger his kingdom would incur if Lom- 
bardy were to fall into the hands of the Venetians. Al- 
fonso promised to send him troops, but apprised him of the 
difficulties which would attend their passage, without the 
permission of the count. 

Filippo, driven to extremity, then had recourse to Fran- 
cesco, and begged he would not abandon his father-in-law, 
now that he had become old and blind. The count was 
offended with the duke for making war against him ; but he 
was jealous of the increasing greatness of the Venetians, and 
he himself began- to be in want of money, for the league 
supplied him sparingly. The Florentines, being no longer in 
fear of the duke, ceased to stand in need of the count, and 
the Venetians desired his ruin ; for they thought Lombardy 
could not be taken from them, except by his means : yet while 
Filippo sought to gain him over, and offered him the entire 
command of his forces, on condition that he should restore 
La Marca to the pope and quit the Venetian alliance, ambas- 
sadors were sent to him by that republic, promising him 
Milan, if they took it, and the perpetual command of their 
forces, if he would push the war in La Marca, and prevent 
Alfonso from sending troops into Lombardy. The offers of 
the Venetians were great, as also were their claims upon him, 
having begun the war in order to save him from losing Cre- 
mona; whilst the injuries received from the duke were fresh 
in his memory, and his promises had lost all influence, still 

JB. vt. ch. 3.A.D. 1447. DEATH OF Pl.iPPO. 269 

the count hesitated; for, on the one hand, were to be con- 
sidered, his obligations to the league, his pledged faith, their 
recent services, and his hopes of the future, all which had their 
influence with him ; on the other, were the entreaties of his 
father-in-law, and above all, the bane which he feared would 
be concealed under the specious offers of the Venetians, 
for he doubted not, that both with regard to Milan and 
their other promises, if they were victorious, he would be at 
their mercy, to which no prudent man would ever submit if 
he could avoid it. These difficulties in the way of his forming 
a determination, were obviated by the ambition of the Vene- 
tians, who seeing a chance of occupying Cremona, from 
secret intelligence with that city, under a different pretext, 
sent troops into its neighbourhood ; but the affair was dis- 
covered by those who commanded Cremona for the count, 
and measures were adopted which prevented its success. 
Thus without obtaining Cremona, they lost the count's friend- 
ship, who now being free from all other considerations, 
joined the duke. 


Death of Filippo Visconti, duke of Milan — The Milanese appoint Sforza 
their captain — Milan becomes a republic — The pope endeavours to re- 
store peace to Italy— The Venetians oppose this design — Alfonso attacks 
the Florentines — The neighbourhood of Piombino becomes the princi- 
pal theatre of war — Scarcity in the Florentine camp — Disorders occur 
in the Neapolitan and Florentine armies — Alfonso sues for peace and is 
compelled to retreat — Pavia surrenders to the count — Displeasure of the 
Milanese — The count besieges Caravaggio — The Venetians endeavour to 
relieve the place — They are routed by the count before Caravaggio. 

Pope Eugenitjs being dead, was succeeded by Nicholas V. 
The count had his whole army at Cotignola, ready to pass 
into Lombardy, when intelligence was brought him of the 
death of Filippo, which happened on the last day of August, 
1447. This event greatly afflicted him, for he doubted 
whether his troops were in readiness, on account of their 
arrears of pay; he feared the Venetians, who were his armed 

270 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. vr. ch. 3. a.d. 1447. 

enemies, he having recently forsaken them and taken part 
with the duke ; he was in apprehension from Alfonso, his 
inveterate foe ; he had no hope from the pontiff or the Floren- 
tines ; for the latter were allies of the Venetians, and he had 
seized the territories of the former. However, he resolved 
to face his fortune and be guided by circumstances ; for it 
often happens, that when engaged in business valuable ideas 
are suggested, which in a state of inaction would never have 
occurred. He had great hopes, that if the Milanese were 
disposed to defend themselves against the ambition of the 
Venetians, they could make use of no other power but his. 
Therefore, he proceeded confidently into the Bolognese ter- 
ritory, thence to Modena and Reggio, halted with his forces 
upon the Lenza, and sent to offer his services at Milan. On 
the death of the duke, part of the Milanese were inclined to 
establish a republic ; others wished to choose a prince, and 
of these, one part favoured the count, and another Alfonzo. 
However, the majority being in favour of freedom, they pre- 
vailed over the rest, and organized a republic, to which many 
cities of the Duchy refused obedience ; for they, too, desired 
to live in the enjoyment of their liberty, and even those who 
did not embrace such views, refused to submit to the sove- 
reignty of the Milanese. Lodi and Piacenza surrendered 
themselves to the Venetians ; Pavia and Parma became free. 
This confused state of things being known to the count, he 
proceeded to Cremona, where his ambassadors and those of 
the Milanese arranged for him to command the forces of the 
new republic, with the same remuneration he had received 
from the duke at the time of his decease. To this they 
added the possession of Brescia, until Verona was recovered, 
when he should have that city and restore Brescia to the 

Before the duke's death, Pope Nicholas, after his assump- 
tion of the pontificate, sought to restore peace amongst the 
princes of Italy, and with this object, endeavoured, in con- 
junction with the ambassadors sent by the Florentines to 
congratulate him upon his accession, to appoint a diet at 
Ferrara, to attempt either the arrangement of a long truce, 
or the establishment of peace. A congress was accordingly 
held in that city, of the pope's legate and the Venetian, ducal, 
and Florentine representatives. King Alfonso had no en- 

B. vi. ch. 3. a.d. 1447. MILAN A REPUBLIC. 271 

voy there. He was at Tivoli with a great body of horse 
and foot, and favourable to the duke ; both having resolved, 
that having gained the count over to their side, they would 
openly attack the Florentines and Venetians, and, till the ar- 
rival of the count in Lombardy, take part in the treaty for 
peace at Ferrara, at which, though the king did not appear, 
he engaged to concur in whatever course the duke should 
adopt. The conference lasted several days, and after many 
debates, resolved on either a truce for five years, or a per- 
manent peace, whichsoever the duke should approve ; and 
the ducal ambassadors having returned to Milan to learn his 
decision, found him dead. Notwithstanding this, the Mil- 
anese were disposed to adopt the resolutions of the assem- 
bly, but the Venetians refused, indulging great hopes o 
becoming masters of Lombardy, particularly as Lodi and 
Piacenza, immediately after the duke's death, had submitted 
to them. They trusted that either by force or by treaty the} 
could strip Milan of her power ; and then so press her, as 
to compel her also to surrender before any assistance could 
arrive ; and they were the more confident of this from seeing 
the Florentines involved in war with King Alfonso. 

The king being at Tivoli, and designing to pursue his en- 
terprise against Tuscany, as had been arranged between 
himself and Filippo, judging that the war now commenced 
in Lombardy would give him both time and opportunity, 
and wishing to have a footing in the Florentine state before 
he openly commenced hostilities, opened a secret under- 
standing with the fortress of Cennina, in the Val d'Arno 
Superiore, and took possession of it. The Florentines, sur- 
prised with this unexpected event, perceiving the king 
already in action, and resolved to do them all the injury 
in his power, hired forces, created a council of ten for man- 
agement of the war, and prepared for the conflict in their 
usual manner. The king was already in the Siennese, and 
used his utmost endeavours to reduce the city ; but the in- 
habitants of Sienna were firm in their attachment to the 
Florentines, and refused to receive him within their walls or 
into any of their territories. They furnished him with pro- 
visions, alleging in excuse, the enemy's power and their ina- 
bility to resist. The king, finding he could not enter by the 
Val d'Arno, as he had first intended, both because Cennina 

272 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. vi. ch. 3. a.d. 1447. 

had been already re-taken, and because the Florentines were 
now in some measure prepared for their defence, turned towards 
Volterra, and occupied many fortresses in that territory. 
Thence he proceeded towards Pisa, and with the assistance 
of Fazio and Arrigo de' Conti, of the Gherardesca, took some 
castles, and issuing from them, assailed Campiglia, but could 
not take it, the place being defended by the Florentines, and 
it being now in the depth of winter. Upon this the king, 
leaving garrisons in the places he had taken to harass the 
surrounding country, withdrew with the remainder of his 
army to quarters in the Siennese. The Florentines, aided by 
the season, used the most active exertions to provide them- 
selves troops, whose captains were Federigo, lord of Urbino, 
and Gismondo Malatesti da Rimino, who, though mutual 
foes, were kept so united by the prudence of the commis- 
saries, Neri di Gino and Bernardetto de' Medici, that they 
broke up their quarters whilst the weather was still very 
severe, and recovered not only the places that had been 
taken in the territory of Pisa, but also the Pomerancie 
he neighbourhood of Volterra, and so checked the king's 
troops, who at first had overrun the Maremma, that they 
could scarcely retain the places they had been left to 

Upon the return of the spring, the commissaries halted 
with their whole force, consisting of five thousand horse and 
two thousand foot, at the Spedaletto. The king approached 
with his army, amounting to fifteen thousand men, within 
three miles of Campiglia, but when it was expected he would 
attack the place he fell upon Piombino, hoping, as it was 
insufficiently provided, to take it with very little trouble, 
and thus acquire a very important position, the loss of 
which would be severely felt by the Florentines ; for from it 
he would be able to exhaust them with a long war, obtain 
his own provision by sea, and harass the whole territory of 
Pisa. They were greatly alarmed at this attack, and, con- 
sidering what was the most advisable course, concluded that 
if they could remain with their army amongst the woods of 
Campiglia, the king would be compelled to retire either in 
defeat or disgrace. "With this view they equipped four 
galleys at Livorno, and having succeeded in throwing three 
hundred infantry into Piombino, took up their own posi- 

B. vi. ch. 3. a.d. 1445. OVERTURES OF PEACE. 273 

tion at the Caldane, a place where it would be difficult to 
attack them ; and they thought it would be dangerous to 
encamp amongst the thickets of the plain. 

The Florentine army depended for provisions on the sur- 
rounding places, which, being poor and thinly inhabited, 
had difficulty in supplying them. Consequently the troops 
suffered, particularly from want of wane, for none being 
produced in that vicinity, and unable to procure it from 
more distant places, it was impossible to obtain a sufficient 
quantity. But the king, though closely pressed by the Flo- 
rentines, was well provided except in forage, for he obtained 
everything else by sea. The Florentines, desirous to supply 
themselves in the same manner, loaded four vessels with pro- 
visions, but, upon their approach, they were attacked by seven 
of the king's galleys, which took two of them and put the 
rest to flight. This disaster made them despair of procuring 
provisions, so that two hundred men of a foraging party, 
principally for want of wine, deserted to the king, and the 
rest complained that they could not live without it, in a 
situation where the heat was so excessive and the water bad. 
The commissaries therefore determined to quit the place, and 
endeavour to recover those castles which still remained in the 
enemy's power ; who, on his part, though not suffering from 
want of provisions, and greatly superior in numbers, found his 
enterprise a failure, from the ravages made in his army by those 
diseases which the hot season produces in marshy localities ; 
and which prevailed to such an extent that many died daily, 
and nearly all were affected. These circumstances occasioned 
overtures of peace. The king demanded fifty thousand florins, 
and the possession of Piombino. When the terms were 
under consideration, many citizens, desirous of peace, would 
have accepted them, declaring there was no hope of bringing to 
a favourable conclusion a war which required so much money 
to carry it on. But Neri Capponi going to Florence, placed the 
matter in a more correct light, and it was then unanimously 
determined to reject the proposal, and take the lord of Piom- 
bino under their protection, with an alliance offensive and 
defensive, provided he did not abandon them, but assist in 
their defence as hitherto. The king being informed of this 
resolution, saw that, with his reduced army, he could not 
gain the place, and withdrew in the same condition as if 


274 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. 3. a.d. 1445. 

completely routed, leaving behind him two thousand dead. 
With the remainder of his sick troops he retired to the 
Siennese territory, and thence to his kingdom, incensed against 
the Florentines, and threatening them with new wars upon 
the return of spring. 

Whilst these events were proceeding in Tuscany the Count 
Sforza, having become leader of the Milanese forces, strenu- 
ously endeavoured to secure the friendship of Francesco 
Piccinino, who was also in their service, that he might sup- 
port him in his enterprises, or be less disposed to do him 
injury. He then took the field with his army, upon which 
the people of Pavia, conscious of their inability to resist 
him, and unwilling to obey the Milanese, offered to submit 
themselves to his authority, on condition that he should not 
subject them to the power of Milan. The count desired the 
possession of Pavia, and considered the circumstance a happy 
omen, as it would enable him to give a colour to his designs. 
He was not restrained from treachery either by fear or shame ; 
for great men consider failure disgraceful, — a fraudulent 
success the contrary. But he w r as apprehensive that his pos- 
ion of the city would excite the animosity of the Milanese, 
and perhaps induce them to throw themselves under the 
power of the Venetians. If he refused to accept the offer, 
he would have occasion to fear the duke of Savoy, to 
whom many citizens were inclined to submit themselves ; 
and either alternative would deprive him of the sovereignty 
of Lombardy. Concluding there was less danger in taking 
possession of the city than in allowing another to have it, he 
determined to accept the proposal of the people of Pavia. 
trusting he would be able to satisfy the Milanese, to whom 
he pointed out the danger they must have incurred had he 
not complied with it ; for her citizens w r ould have surrendered 
themselves to the Venetians or to the duke of Savoy ; so that 
in either case they would have been deprived of the govern- 
ment, and therefore they ought to be more willing to have him- 
self as their neighbour and friend, than a hostile power such 
as either of the others, and their enemy. The Milanese were 
upon this occasion greatly perplexed, imagining they had 
discovered the count's ambition, and the end he had in view; 
but they thought it desirable to conceal their fears, for they 
did not know, if the count were to desert them, to whom 


they could have recourse except the Venetians, whose pride 
and tyranny they naturally dreaded. They therefore resolved 
not to break with the count, but by his assistance remedy the 
evils with which they were threatened, hoping that when 
freed from them they might rescue themselves from him also ; 
for at that time they were assailed not only by the Venetians 
but by the Genoese and the duke of Savoy, in the name of 
Charles of Orleans, the son of a sister of Filippo, but whom 
the count easily vanquished. Thus their only remaining 
enemies were the Venetians, who, with a powerful army, 
determined to occupy their territories, and had already taken 
possession of Lodi and Piacenza, before which latter place 
the count encamped ; and, after a long siege, took and pil- 
laged the city. Winter being set in, he led his forces into 
quarters, and then Avithdrew to Cremona, where, during the 
cold season, he remained in repose with his wife. 

In the spring, the Venetian and Milanese armies again 
took the field. It was the design of the Milanese, first to 
recover Lodi and then to come to terms with the Venetians ; 
for the expenses of the war had become very great, and they 
were doubtful of their general's sincerity, so that they were 
anxious alike for the repose of peace, and for security against 
the count. They therefore resolved that the army should 
march to the siege of Caravaggio, hoping that Lodi would 
surrender, on that fortress being wrested from the enemy's 
hands. The count obeyed, though he would have preferred 
crossing the Adda and attacking the Brescian territory. 
Having encamped before Caravaggio, he so strongly en- 
trenched himself, that if the enemy attempted to relieve 
the place, they would have to attack him at great disad- 
vantage. The Venetian army, led by Micheletto, approached 
within two bowshots of the count's camp, and many skir- 
mishes ensued. The count continued to press the fortress, 
and reduced it to the very last extremity, which greatly 
distressed the Venetians, since they knew the loss of it would 
involve the total failure of their expedition. Very different 
views were entertained by their military officers respecting 
the best mode of relieving the place, but they saw no course 
open except to attack the enemy in his trenches, in spite of 
all obstacles. The castle was, however, considered of such 
paramount importance, that the Venetian senate, though 

T 2 

27G HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. vi. ch.3. a.d. 1445 

naturally timid, and averse to all hazardous undertakings, 
chose rather to risk everything than allow it to fall into the 
hands of the enemy. 

They therefore resolved to attack the count at all events, 
and early the next morning commenced their assault upon 
a point which was least defended. At the first charge, as 
commonly happens in a surprise, Francesco's whole army was 
thrown into dismay. Order, however, was soon so com- 
pletely restored by the count, that the enemy, after various 
efforts to gain the outworks, were repulsed and put to flight ; 
and so entirely routed, that of twelve thousand horse only 
one thousand escaped the hands of the Milanese, who took 
possession of all the carriages and military stores ; nor had 
the Venetians ever before suffered such a thorough rout and 
overthrow. Among the plunder and prisoners, crouching 
down, as if to escape observation, was found a Venetian 
commissary, who, in the course of the war and before the 
. had spoken contemptuously of the count, calling him 
u bastard," and " base-born." Being made prisoner, he 
remembered his faults, and fearing punishment, being taken 
before the count, was agonized with terror ; and, as is usual 
with mean minds (in prosperity insolent, in adversity abject 
and cringing), prostrated himself, weeping and begging 
pardon for the offences he had committed. The count, 
taking him by the arm, raised him up, and encouraged him to 
hope for the best. He then said he wondered how a man 
so prudent and respectable as himself, could so far err as to 
speak disparagingly of those who did not merit it ; and as 
regarded the insinuations which he had made against him, he 
really did not know how Sforza his father, and Madonna 
Lucia his mother, had proceeded together, not having been 
there, and having no opportunity of interfering in the matter, 
so that he was not liable either to blame or praise. How- 
ever, he knew very well, that in regard to his own actions he 
had conducted himself so that no one could blame him; 
and in proof of it he would refer both the Venetian senate 
and himself to what had happened that day. He then advised 
him in future to be more respectful in speaking of others, and 
more cautious in regard to his own proceedings. 

13. vi. en. 4. a d. 1447. Til B COUNTS SUCCESS. 


The count's successes — The Venetians come to terms with him — Views of 
the Venetians — Indignation of the Milanese against the count — Their 
ambassador's address to him — The count's moderation and reply — The 
count and the Milanese prepare for war — Milanese ambassadors at 
Venice — League of the Venetians and Milanese — The count dupes the 
Venetians and Milanese — He applies for assistance to the Florentines — 
Diversity of opinions in Florence on the subject — Neri di Gino Capponi 
averse to assisting the count — Cosmo de' Medici disposed to do so — The 
Florentines send ambassadors to the count. 

After this victory, the count marched into the Brescian 
territory, occupied the whole country, and then pitched his 
camp within two miles of the city. The Venetians, having 
well-grounded fears that Brescia would be next attacked, 
provided the best defence in their power. They then col- 
lected the relics of their army, and, by virtue of the treaty. 
demanded assistance of the Florentines ; who, being relieved 
from the war with Alfonso, sent them one thousand foot and 
two thousand horse, by whose aid the Venetians were in a 
condition to treat for peace. At one time it seemed the fate 
of their republic to lose by war and win by negotiation ; for 
what was taken from them in battle was frequently restored 
twofold on the restoration of peace. They knew the Milanese 
were jealous of the count, and that he wished to be not their 
captain merely, but their sovereign ; and as it was in their 
power to make peace with either of the two (the one desiring 
it from ambition, the other from fear), they determined to 
make choice of the count, and offer him assistance to effect 
his design; persuading themselves, that as the Milanese 
would perceive they had been duped by him, they would in 
revenge place themselves in the power of any one rather than 
in his ; and that, becoming unable either to defend them- 
selves or trust the count, they would be compelled, having no 
other resource, to fall into their hands. Having taken this 
resolution, they sounded the count, and found him quite dis- 
posed for peace, evidently desirous that the honour and ad- 
vantage of the victory at Caravaggio should be his own, and 
not accrue to the Milanese. The parties therefore entered 
into an agreement, in which the Venetians undertook to 

278 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B vr. ch. 4. a.d. 1447. 

pay the count thirteen thousand florins per month, till he 
should obtain Milan, and to furnish him, during the con- 
tinuance of the war, four thousand horse and two thousand 
foot. The count engaged to restore to the Venetians the 
towns, prisoners, and whatever else had been taken by him 
during the late campaigns, and content himself with those 
territories which the duke possessed at the time of his death. 
When this treaty became known at Milan, it grieved the 
citizens more than the victory at Caravaggio had exhilarated 
them. The rulers of the city mourned, the people com- 
plained, women and children wept, and all exclaimed against 
the count as false and perfidious. Although they could not 
hope that either prayers or promises would divert him from 
his ungrateful design, they sent ambassadors to see with 
what kind of colour he would invest his unprincipled pro- 
ceedings, and being admitted to his presence, one of them 
spoke to the following effect : — " It is customary with those 
who wish to obtain a favour, to make use either of prayers, 
presents, or threats, that pity, convenience, or fear, may in- 
duce a compliance with their requests. But as with cruel, 
avaricious, or, in their own conceit, powerful men, these ar- 
guments have no weight, it is ^ain to hope, either to soften 
them by prayers, win them by presents, or alarm them by 
menaces. We, therefore, being now, though late, aware of 
thy pride, cruelty, and ambition, come hither, not to ask 
aught, nor with the hope, even if we were so disposed, of 
obtaining it, but to remind thee of the benefits thou hast 
received from the people of Milan, and to prove with what 
heartless ingratitude thou has repaid them, that at least, under 
the many evils oppressing us, we may derive some gratifica- 
tion from telling thee how and by whom they have been 
produced. Thou canst not have forgotten thy wretched 
condition at the death of the duke Filippo ; the king 
and the pope were both thine enemies ; thou hadst aban- 
doned the Florentines and the Venetians, who, on account 
of their just indignation, and because they stood in no fur- 
ther need of thee, were almost become thy declared ene- 
mies. Thou wert exhausted by thy wars against the church : 
with few followers, no friends, or any money; hopeless 
of being able to preserve either thy territories or thy re- 
putation. From these circumstances thy ruin must have 

B.iv. ch. Ia.d. 1417. THE MILANESE ADDRESS. 279 

ensued, but for our simplicity ; we received thee to our 
home, actuated by reverence for the happy memory of 
our duke, with whom, being connected by marriage and 
renewed alliance, we believed thy affection would descend 
to those who had inherited his authority, and that, if 
to the benefits he had conferred on thee, our own were 
added, the friendship we sought to establish would not only 
be firm, but inseparable ; with this impression, we added Ve- 
rona or Brescia to thy previous appointments. What more 
could we either give or promise thee ? What else couldst 
thou, not from us merely, but from any others, have either 
had or expected ? Thou receivedst from us an unhoped-for 
benefit, and we, in return, an unmerited wrong. Neither 
hast thou deferred until now the manifestation of thy base 
designs ; for no sooner wert thou appointed to command our 
armies, than, contrary to every dictate of propriety, thou didst 
accept Pavia, which plainly showed what was to be the result 
of thy friendship ; but we bore with the injury, in hope 
that the greatness of the advantage would satisfy thy am- 
bition. Alas ! those who grasp at all cannot be satisfied 
with a part. Thou didst promise that we should possess the 
conquests which thou might afterwards make ; for thou wert 
well aware that what was given at many times might be with- 
drawn at once, as was the case after the victory at Cara- 
vaggio, purchased by our money and blood, and followed by 
our ruin. Oh ! unhappy states, which have to guard against 
their oppressor ; but much more wretched those who have 
to trust to mercenary and faithless arms like thine ! May 
our example instruct posterity, since that of Thebes and 
Philip of Macedon, who, after victory over her enemies, 
from being her captain became her foe and her prince, could 
not avail us. 

" The only fault of which we are conscious, is, our over- 
weening confidence in one whom we ought not to have 
trusted ; for thy past life, thy restless mind, incapable of re- 
pose, ought to have put us on our guard ; neither ought we 
to have confided in one who betrayed the lord of Lucca, set 
a fine upon the Florentines and the Venetians, defied the 
duke, despised the king, and, besides all this, persecuted the 
church of God, and the Divinity himself with innumerable 
atrocities. We ought not to have fancied that so many 

280 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. vi. ch. 4. a.d. 1447. 

potentates possessed less influence over the mind of Francesco 
Sforza, than the Milanese ; or that he would preserve un- 
blemished that faith towards us which he had on so many 
occasions broken with them. Still this want of caution in 
us does not excuse the perfidy in thee ; nor can it obliterate 
the infamy with which our just complaints will blacken thy 
character throughout the world, or prevent the remorse of 
thy conscience, when our arms are used for our own destruc- 
tion : for thou wilt see that the sufferings due to parricides 
are fully deserved by thee. And though ambition should 
blind thine eyes, the whole world, witness to thine iniquity, 
will compel thee to open them ; God himself will unclose 
them, if perjuries, if violated faith, if treacheries displease 
him, and if, as ever, he is still the enemy of the wicked. Do 
not, therefore, promise thyself any certainty of victory ; for 
the just wrath of the Almighty will weigh heavily upon thee; 
and we are resolved to lose our liberty only with our lives ; 
but if we found we could not ultimately defend it, we w r ould 
submit ourselves to any one rather than to thee. And if our 
sins be so great, that in spite of our utmost resolution, we 
should still fall into thy hands, be quite assured, that the 
sovereignty which is commenced in deceit and villainy, will 
terminate either in thyself or thy children, with ignominy 
and blood." 

The count, though not insensible to the just reproaches of 
the Milanese, did not exhibit either by words or gesture, any 
unusual excitement, and replied, that " He willingly attri- 
buted to their angry feelings all the serious charges of their 
indiscreet harangue ; and he would reply to them in de- 
tail, were he in the presence of any one who could decide 
their differences ; for it would be evident that he had not 
injured the Milanese, but only taken care that they should 
not injure him. They well knew how they had proceeded 
after the victory of Caravaggio ; for, instead of rewarding 
him with either Verona or Brescia, they sought peace with 
the Venetians, that all the blame of the quarrel might rest 
on him, themselves obtaining the fruit of victory, the credit 
of peace, and all the advantages that could be derived 
from the war. It would thus be manifest they had no 
right to complain, w r hen he had effected the arrangements 
which they first attempted to make ; and that if he had 

R. vi . ch. 4. A.D.M47. THE VENETIANS TAKE CREMA. 281 

deferred to do so a little longer, he would have had reason 
to accuse them of the ingratitude with which they were now 
charging him. Whether the charge were true or false, that 
God whom they had invoked to avenge their injuries, would 
show, at the conclusion of the war, and would demonstrate 
which was most his friend, and who had most justice on 
their side." 

Upon the departure of the ambassadors, the count deter- 
mined to attack the Milanese, who prepared for their defence, 
and appointed Francesco and Jacopo Piccinino (attached to 
their cause, on account of the ancient feud of the families of 
Braccio and Sforza) to conduct their forces in support of 
liberty ; at least till they could deprive the count of the aid 
of the Venetians, who they did not think would long be 
either friendly or faithful to him. On the other hand, the 
count, perfectly aware of this, thought it not imprudent, sup- 
posing the obligation of the treaty insufficient, to bind them 
by the ties of interest ; and, therefore, in assigning to each 
their portion of the enterprise, he consented that the Vene- 
tians should attack Crema, and himself, with the other forces, 
assail the remainder of the territory. The advantage of this 
arrangement kept the Venetians so long in alliance with the 
count, that he was enabled to conquer the whole of the Mi- 
lanese territory, and to press the city so closely, that the in- 
habitants could not provide themselves with necessaries : 
despairing of success, they sent envoys to the Venetians to 
beg they would compassionate their distress, and, as ought to be 
the case between republics, assist them in defence of their li- 
berty against a tyrant, whom, if once master of their city, they 
would be unable to restrain ; neither did they think he 
would be content with the boundaries assigned him by the 
treaty, but would expect all the dependencies of Milan. 

The Venetians had not yet taken Crema, and wishing, be- 
fore they changed sides, to effect this point, they publicly an- 
swered the envoys, that their engagements with the count 
prevented them from defending the Milanese ; but secretly, 
gave them every assurance of their wish so to do. 

The count had approached so near Milan with his forces, 
that he was disputing the suburbs with the inhabitants, when 
the Venetians having taken Crema, thought they need no 
longer hesitate to declare in favour of the Milanese, with 

282 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. vi. ch. 4. a.d. 1448. 

whom they made peace and entered into alliance ; amongst 
the terms of which was the defence of their liberty unim- 
paired. Having come to this agreement, they ordered their 
forces to withdraw from the count's camp and to return to the 
Venetian territory. They informed him of the peace made 
with the Milanese, and gave him twenty days to consider 
what course he would adopt. He was not surprised at the 
step taken by the Venetians, for he had long foreseen it, and 
expected its occurrence daily ; but when it actually took 
place, he could not help feeling regret and displeasure simi- 
lar to what the Milanese had experienced when he abandoned 
them. He took two days to consider the reply he would 
make to the ambassadors whom the Venetians had sent to 
inform him of the treaty, and during this time he determined 
to dupe the Venetians, and not abandon his enterprise ; there- 
fore, appearing openly to accept the proposal for peace, he 
sent his ambassadors to Venice with full credentials to effect 
the ratification, but gave them secret orders not to do so, 
and with pretexts or cavilling put it off. To give the Vene- 
tians greater assurance of his sincerity, he made a truce with 
the Milanese for a month, withdrew from Milan and divided 
his forces among the places he had taken. This course was 
the occasion of his victory and the ruin of the Milanese; for 
the Venetians, confident of peace, were slow in preparing for 
war, and the Milanese finding the truce concluded, the 
enemy withdrawn, and the Venetians their friends, felt as- 
sured that the count had determined to abandon his design. 
This idea injured them in two ways ; one, by neglecting to 
provide for their defence; the next, that, being seed-time, 
they sowed a large quantity of grain in the country which the 
enemy had evacuated, and thus brought famine upon them- 
selves. On the other hand, all that was injurious to his ene- 
mies favoured the count, and the time gave him opportunity 
to take breath and provide himself with assistance. 

The Florentines during the war of Lombardy had not 
declared in favour of either party, or assisted the count 
either in defence of the Milanese or since ; for he never 
having been in need had not pressingly requested it ; and 
they only sent assistance to the Venetians after the rout 
at Caravaggio, in pursuance of the treaty. Count Fran- 
cesco, standing now alone, and not knowing to whom else 

B. Tf CH. 4. A.D. 1U8. COSMO de' medici. 283 

he could apply, was compelled to request immediate aid 
of the Florentines, publicly from the state, and privately 
from friends, particularly from Cosmo de' Medici, with whom 
he had always maintained a steady friendship, and by whom 
he had constantly been faithfully advised and liberally sup- 
ported. Nor did Cosmo abandon him in his extreme ne- 
cessity, but supplied him generously from his own resources, 
and encouraged him to prosecute his design. He also 
wished the city publicly to assist him, but there were diffi- 
culties in the way. Neri di Gino Capponi, one of the most 
powerful citizens of Florence, thought it not to the advan- 
tage of the city, that the count should obtain Milan ; and 
was of opinion that it would be more to the safety of Italy 
for him to ratify the peace than pursue the war. In the 
first place, he apprehended that the Milanese, through their 
anger against the count, would surrender themselves en- 
tirely to the Venetians, which would occasion the ruin of all. 
Supposing he should occupy Milan, it appeared to him that 
so great military superiority, combined with such an extent 
of territory, would be dangerous to themselves, and that if 
as count he was intolerable, he would become doubly so 
as duke. He therefore considered it better for the re- 
public of Florence and for Italy, that the count should be 
content with his military reputation, and that Lombardy 
should be divided into two republics, which could never 
unite to injure others, and separately are unable to do so. 
To attain this he saw no better means than to refrain 
from aiding the count, and continuing in the former league 
with the Venetians. These reasonings were not satis- 
factory to Cosmo's friends, for they imagined that Neri 
had argued thus, not from a conviction of its advantage to 
the republic, but to prevent the count, as a friend of Cosmo, 
from becoming duke, apprehending that Cosmo would, in 
consequence of this, become too powerful. 

Cosmo, in reply, pointed out, that to lend assistance to the 
count would be highly beneficial both to Italy and the re- 
public ; for it was unwise to imagine the Milanese could 
preserve their own liberty ; for the nature of their commu- 
nity, their mode of life, and their hereditary feuds were 
opposed to every kind of civil government, so that it was 
necessary, either that the count should become duke of 

284 HISTOBY OF FLORENCE. B. vr. ch. 5. a.d. 1449. 

Milan, or the Venetians her lords. And surely under such 
circumstances, no one could doubt which would be most to 
their advantage, to have for their neighbour a powerful friend 
or a far more powerful foe. Neither need it be apprehended 
that the Milanese, while at war with the count, would submit 
to the Venetians ; for the count had a strong party in the 
city, and the Venetians had not, so that whenever they were 
unable to defend themselves as freemen, they would be more 
inclined to obey the count than the Venetians. 

These diverse views kept the city long in suspense ; but 
at length it was resolved to send ambassadors to the count 
to settle the terms of agreement, with instructions, that if 
they found him in such a condition as to give hopes of his 
ultimate success, they were to close with him, but, if other- 
wise, they were to draw out the time in diplomacy. 


Prosecution of the war between the count and the Milanese — The Milanese 
reduced to extremity — The people rise against the magistrates — Milan 
surrenders to the count — League between the new duke of Milan and 
the Florentines, and between the king of Naples and the Venetians — 
Venetian and Neapolitan ambassadors at Florence — Answer of Cosmo 
de' Medici to the Venetian ambassador — 1 'reparations of the Venetians 
and the king of Naples for the war — The Venetians excite disturb- 
ances in Bologna — Florence prepares for war — The emperor, Frede- 
rick III. at Florence — War in Lombardy between the duke of Milan 
and the Venetians — Ferrando, son of the king of Naples, marches into 
Tuscany against the Florentines. 

The ambassadors were at Reggio when they heard that the 
count had become lord of Milan ; for as soon as the truce 
had expired, he approached the city with his forces, hoping 
quickly to get possession of it in spite of the Venetians, who 
could bring no relief except from the side of the Adda, 
which route he could easily obstruct, and therefore had no 
apprehension (being then winter) of their arrival, and he 
trusted that, before the return of spring, he would be vic- 
torious, particularly, as by the death of Francesco Picci- 
nino, there remained only Jacopo his brother, to command ch. 5.A.D.1449. RIOT AT MILAN. 285 

the Milanese. The Venetians had sent an ambassador to 
Milan to confirm the citizens in their resolution of defence, 
promising them powerful and immediate aid. During the 
winter a few slight skirmishes had taken place between the 
count and the Venetians ; but on the approach of milder 
weather, the latter, under Pandolfo Malatesti, halted with 
their army upon the Adda, and considering whether, in 
order to succour the Milanese, they ought to risk a battle, 
Pandolfo, their general, aware of the count's abilities, and 
the courage of his army, said it would be unadvisable to 
do so, and that, under the circumstances, it was needless, 
for the count, being in great want of forage, could not 
keep the field, and must soon retire. He therefore advised 
them to remain encamped, to keep the Milanese in hope, 
and prevent them from surrendering. This advice was ap- 
proved by the Venetians, both as being safe, and because, 
by keeping the Milanese in this necessity, they might be the 
sooner compelled to submit to their dominion ; for they felt 
quite sure that the injuries they had received would always 
prevent their submission to the count. 

In the meantime, the Milanese were reduced to the utmost 
misery ; and as the city usually abounded with poor, many 
died of hunger in the streets ; hence arose complaints and 
disturbances in several parts, which alarmed the magistrates, 
and compelled them to use their utmost exertions to prevent 
popular meetings. The multitude are always slow to resolve 
on commotion ; but, the resolution once formed, any trivial 
circumstance excites it to action. Two men in humble life, 
talking together near the Porta Nuova of the calamities of 
the city, their own misery, and the means that might be 
adopted for their relief, others beginning to congregate, there 
was soon collected a large crowd ; in consequence of it a 
report was spread that the neighbourhood of Porta Nuova 
had risen against the government. Upon this, all the lower 
orders, who only waited for an example, assembled in arms, 
and chose Gasparre da Vicomercato to be their leader. They 
then proceeded to the place where the magistrates were as- 
sembled, and attacked them so impetuously that all who did 
not escape by flight were slain: among the number, as 
being considered a principal cause of the famine, and gratified 
at their distress, fell Lionardo Veniero, the Venetian ambas- 

286 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. 6. a.d. liSO 

sador. Having thus almost become masters of the city, they 
considered what course was next to be adopted to escape 
from the horrors surrounding them, and to procure peace. A 
feeling universally prevailed, that as they could not preserve 
their own liberty, they ought to submit to a prince who could 
defend them. Some proposed King Alfonso, some the duke 
of Savoy, and others the king of France, but none mentioned 
the count, so great was the general indignation against 
him. However, disagreeing with the rest, Gasparre da 
Vicomercato proposed him, and explained in detail that if 
they desired relief from war, no other plan was open, since 
the people of Milan required a certain and immediate peace, 
and not a distant hope of succour. He apologised for the 
count's proceedings, accused the Venetians, and all the 
powers of Italy, of which some from ambition and others 
from avarice were averse to their possessing freedom. Hav- 
ing to dispose of their liberty, it would be preferable, he 
said, to obey one who knew and could defend them ; so 
that, by their servitude they might obtain peace, and not 
bring upon themselves greater evils and more dangerous wars. 
He was listened to with the most profound attention ; and, 
having concluded his harangue, it was unanimously resolved 
by the assembly, that the count should be called in, and 
Gasparre was appointed to wait upon him and signify their 
desire. By the people's command he conveyed the pleasing 
and happy intelligence to the count, who heard it with the 
utmost satisfaction, and entered Milan as prince on the 26th 
February, 1450, where he was received with the greatest 
possible joy by those who, only a short time previously, had 
heaped on him all the slanders that hatred could inspire. 

The news of this event reaching Florence, orders were im- 
mediately sent to the envoys who were upon the way to 
Milan, that instead of treating for his alliance with the count, 
they should congratulate the duke upon his victory ; they, 
arranging accordingly, had a most honourable reception, and 
were treated with all possible respect ; for the duke well 
knew that in all Italy he could not find braver or more faithful 
friends, to defend him against the power of the Venetians, 
than the Florentines, who, being no longer in fear of the 
house of Visconti, found themselves opposed by the Arra- 
gonese and Venetians ; for the Arragonese princes of Naples 

B vr. m. 5. a.d.1450. AMBASSADORS AT FLORENCE. 287 

were jealous of the friendship which the Florentines had 
always evinced for the family of France ; and the Venetians, 
seeing the ancient enmity of the Florentines against the 
Yisconti transferred to themselves, resolved to injure them as 
much as possible ; for they knew how pertinaciously and 
invariably they had persecuted the Lombard princes. These 
considerations caused the new duke willingly to join the Flo- 
rentines, and united the Venetians and King Alfonso against 
their common enemies ; impelling them at the same time to 
hostilities, the king against the Florentines, and the Venetians 
against the duke, who, being fresh in the government, would, 
they imagined, be unable to resist them, even with all the aid 
he could obtain. 

But as the league between the Florentines and the Vene - 
tians still continued, and as the king, after the war of Piom- 
bino, had made peace with the former, it seemed indecent to 
commence an open rupture until some plausible reason could 
be assigned in justification of offensive measures. On this 
account each sent ambassadors to Florence, who, on the part 
of their sovereigns, signified that the league formed between 
them was made not for injury to any, but solely for the mutual 
defence of their states. The Venetian ambassador then com- 
plained, that the Florentines had allowed Alessandro, the 
duke's brother, to pass into Lombardy with his forces ; and 
besides this, had assisted and advised in the treaty made 
between the duke and the marquis of Mantua ; matters which 
he declared to be injurious to the Venetians, and inconsistent 
with the friendship hitherto subsisting between the two go- 
vernments ; amicably reminding them, that one who inflicts 
unmerited injury, gives others just ground of hostility, 
and that those who break a peace may expect war. The 
Signory appointed Cosmo de' Medici to reply to what had 
been said by the Venetian ambassador, and in a long and ex- 
cellent speech he recounted the numerous advantages con- 
ferred by the city on the Venetian republic ; showed what an 
extent of dominion they had acquired by the money, forces, 
and counsel of the Florentines, and reminded him that, 
although the friendship had originated with the Florentines, 
they had never given occasion of enmity ; and as they desired 
peace, they greatly rejoiced that the treaty was made, if it 
had been entered into for the sake of peace, and not of war. 

288 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. vi. ch. 5. a.d. 1450. 

True it was, he wondered much at the remarks which had been 
made, seeing that such light and trivial matters could give 
offence to so great a republic; but if they were worthy of 
notice he must have it universally understood, that the Flo- 
rentines wished their country to be free and open to all ; and 
that the duke's character was such, that if he desired the 
friendship of the marquis of Mantua, he had no need of any 
one's favour or advice. He therefore feared that these 
cavils were produced by some latent motive, which it was not 
thought proper to disclose. Be this as it might, they would 
freely declare to all, that in the same proportion as the friend- 
ship of the Florentines was beneficial their enmity could be 

The matter was hushed up ; and the ambassadors, on their 
departure, appeared perfectly satisfied. But the league 
between the king and the Venetians made the Florentines 
and the duke rather apprehend war than hope for a long con- 
tinuance of peace. They therefore entered into an alliance, 
and at the same time the enmity of the Venetians transpired 
by a treaty with the Siennese, and the expulsion of all Flo- 
rentine subjects from their city and territories. Shortly after 
this, Alfonso did the same, without any consideration of the 
peace made the year previously, and not having even the shadow 
of an excuse. The Venetians attempted to take Bologna, 
and having armed the emigrants, and united to them a con- 
siderable force, introduced them into the city by night through 
one of the common sewers. No sooner had they entered, 
than they raised a cry, by which Santi Bentivogli, being 
awakened, was told that the whole city was in possession of 
the rebels. But though many advised him to escape, saying 
that he could not save the city by his stay, he determined to 
confront the danger, and taking arms encouraged his followers, 
assembled a few friends, attacked and routed part of the 
rebels, slew many more, and drove the remainder out of 
the city. By this act of bravery all agreed he had fully 
proved himself a genuine scion of the house of the Ben- 

These events and demonstrations gave the Florentines an 
earnest of approaching war ; they consequently followed their 
usual practice on similar occasions, and created the council of 
ten. They engaged new condottieri, sent ambassadors to 

B. vi . CH. 5. a.d. 1451. FREDERICK III. CROWNED. 289 

Rome, Naples, Venice, Milan, and Sienna, to demand as- 
nice from their friends, gain information about those 
they suspected, decide such as were wavering, and discover 
the designs of the foe. From the pope they obtained only 
general expressions of an amicable disposition and admoni- 
tions to peace ; from the king, empty excuses for having ex- 
pelled the Florentines, and offers of safe conduct for whoever 
should demand it ; and although he endeavoured, as much as 
possible, to conceal every indication of his hostile designs, 
the ambassadors felt convinced of his unfriendly disposition, 
and observed many preparations tending to the injury of the 
republic. The league with the duke was strengthened by 
mutual obligations, and through his means they became friends 
with the Genoese, the old differences with them respecting 
reprisals, and other small matters of dispute, being composed, 
although the Venetians used every possible means to prevent 
it, and entreated the emperor of Constantinople to expel all 
Florentines from his dominions ; so fierce was the animosity 
with which they entered on this war, and so powerful their 
lust of dominion, that without the least hesitation they 
sought the destruction of those who had been the occasion of 
their own power. The emperor, however, refused to listen 
to them. The Venetian senate forbade the Florentine am- 
bassadors to enter their territories, alleging, that being in 
league with the king, they could not entertain them without 
his concurrence. The Siennese received the ambassadors 
with fair words, fearing their own ruin before the league 
could assist them, and therefore endeavoured to appease the 
powers whose attack they were unable to resist. The Vene- 
tians and the king (as was then conjectured) were disposed 
to send ambassadors to Florence to justify the war. But the 
Venetian envoy was not allowed to enter the Florentine 
dominions, and the king's ambassador, being unwilling to 
perform his office alone, the embassy was not completed ; 
and thus the Venetians learned, that however little they might 
esteem the Florentines, the latter had still less respect for 

In the midst of these fears, the emperor, Frederick III. 
came into Italy to be crowned. On the 30th January, 1451, 
he entered Florence with fifteen hundred horse, and was 
most honourably received by the Signory. He remained in 


290 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. vi. en. 5. a.d. 1452. 

the city till the 6th of February, and then proceeded to 
Rome for his coronation, where, having been solemnly con- 
secrated, and his marriage celebrated with the empress, who 
had come to Rome by sea, he returned to Germany, and 
again passed through Florence in May, with the same hon- 
ours as upon his arrival. On his return, having derived 
some benefits from the marquis of Mantua, he conceded 
to him Modena and Reggio. In the meantime, the Flo- 
rentines did not fail to prepare themselves for immediate war ; 
and to augment their influence, and strike the enemy with 
terror, they, in conjunction with the duke, entered into 
alliance with the king of France for the mutual defence of 
their states. This treaty was published with great pomp 
throughout all Italy. 

The month of May, 1452, having arrived, the Venetians 
thought it not desirable to defer any longer their attack 
upon the duke, and with sixteen thousand horse and six 
thousand foot assailed his territories in the direction of Lodi, 
whilst the marquis of Montferrat, instigated either by his 
own ambition or the entreaties of the Venetians, did the 
same on the side of Alexandria. The duke assembled a 
force of eighteen thousand cavalry and three thousand in- 
fantry, garrisoned Alexandria and Lodi, and all the other 
places where the enemy might annoy them. He then at- 
tacked the Brescian territory, and greatly harassed the Vene- 
tians ; while both parties alike plundered the country and 
ravaged the smaller towns. Having defeated the marquis of 
Montferrat at Alexandria, the duke was able to unite his 
whole force against the Venetians and invade their territory. 

Whilst the war in Lombardy proceeded thus, giving rise to 
various trifling incidents unworthy of recital, King Alfonso 
and the Florentines carried on hostilities in Tuscany, but in a 
similarly inefficient manner, evincing no greater talent, and 
incurring no greater danger. Ferrando, the illegitimate son 
of Alfonso, entered the country with twelve thousand troops, 
under the command of Federigo, lord of Urbino. Their 
first attempt was to attack Fojano, in the Val di Chiane ; for, 
having the Siennese in their favour, they entered the Flo- 
rentine territory in that direction. The walls of the castle 
were weak, and it was small, and consequently poorly manned ; 
but the garrison were, amongst the soldiers of that period, 

r, vi. ch.o. a.d. 1452. SIEGE OF CASTELLINA. 291 

considered brave and faithful. Two hundred infantry were 
also sent by the Signory for its defence. Before this castle, 
thus provided, Ferrando sat down, and either from the valour 
of its defenders or his own deficiencies, thirty-six days 
elapsed before he took it. This interval enabled the city to 
make better provision for places of greater importance, to 
collect forces and conclude more effective arrangements than 
had hitherto been made. The enemy next proceeded into the 
district of Chiane, w r here they attacked two small towns, the 
property of private citizens, but could not capture them. 
They then encamped before the Castellina, a fortress upon 
the borders of the Chianti, within ten miles of Sienna, weak 
from its defective construction, and still more so by its situ- 
ation ; but, notwithstanding these defects, the assailants was 
compelled to retire in disgrace, after having lain before it 
forty-four days. So formidable were those armies, and so 
perilous those wars, that places now abandoned as untenable 
were then defended as impregnable. 

Whilst Ferrando was encamped in the Chianti he made 
many incursions, and took considerable booty from the Flo- 
rentine territories, extending his depredations within six 
miles of the city, to the great alarm and injury of the people, 
who at this time having sent their forces to the number of 
eight thousand soldiers under Astorre da Faenza and Gis- 
mondo Malatesti towards Castel di Colle, kept them at a dis- 
tance from the enemy, lest they should be compelled to an 
engagement ; for they considered that so long as they were 
not beaten in a pitched battle, they could not be vanquished 
in the war generally ; for small castles, when lost, were re- 
covered at the peace, and larger places were in no danger, 
because the enemy would not venture to attack them. The 
king had also a fleet of about twenty vessels, comprising 
galleys, and smaller craft, which lay off Pisa, and during the 
siege of Castellina were moored near the Rocca di Vada, 
which, from the negligence of the governor, he took, and then 
harassed the surrounding country. However, this annoyance 
was easily removed by a few soldiers sent by the Florentines 
to Campiglia, and who confined the enemy to the coast. 


292 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. a.d. 1452. 


Conspiracy of Stefano Porcari against the papal government — The con- 
spirators discovered and punished — The Florentines recover the places 
they had lost— Gherardo Gamhacorti, lord of Val di Bagno, endeavours 
to transfer his territories to the king of Naples — Gallant conduct of 
Antonio Gualandi, who counteracts the design of Gamhacorti — Rene 
of Anjou is called into Italy by the Florentines — Ren6 returns to France 
— The pope endeavours to restore peace — Peace proclaimed — Jacopo 
Piccinino attacks the Siennese. 

The pontiff did not interfere in these affairs further than to 
endeavour to bring the parties to a mutual accommodation ; 
hut while he refrained from external wars he incurred the 
danger of more serious troubles at home. Stefano Porcari 
was a Roman citizen, equally distinguished for nobility of 
birth and extent of learning, but still more by the excellence 
of his character. Like all who are in pursuit of glory, he 
resolved either to perform or attempt something worthy of 
memory, and thought he could not do better than deliver his 
country from the hands of the prelates, aud restore the an- 
cient form of government ; hoping, in the event of success, 
to be considered a new founder or second father of the city. 
The dissolute manners of the priesthood, and the discontent 
of the Roman barons and people, encouraged him to look 
for a happy termination of his enterprise ; but he derived his 
greatest confidence from those verses of Petrarch in the 
canzone which begins, " Spirto gentil che quelle membra 
reggi," where he says, — 

* Sopra il Monte Tarpejo canzon vedrai 
Un cavalier, ch' Italia tutta onora, 
Pensoso piu d'altrui, che di se stesso." 

Stefano, believing poets are sometimes endowed with a divine 
and prophetic spirit, thought the event must take place which 
Petrarch in this canzone seemed to foretell, and that he was 
destined to effect the glorious task ; considering himself in 
learning, eloquence, friends, and influence, superior to any 
other citizen of Rome. Having taken these impressions, 
he had not sufficient prudence to avoid discovering his design 
by his discourse, demeanour, and mode of living ; so that 

B. vi. CM 8. a.d 14J3. STEFAXO POECARI. ' 293 

the pope becoming acquainted with it, in order to prevent 
the commission of some rash act, banished him to Bologna, 
and charged the governor of the city to compel his appear- 
ance before him once every day. Stefano was not daunted 
by this first check, but with even greater earnestness prose- 
cuted his undertaking, and, by such means as were available, 
more cautiously corresponded with his friends, and often 
went and returned from Rome with such celerity as to be in 
time to present himself before the governor within the limit 
allowed for his appearance. Having acquired a sufficient 
number of partizans, he determined to make the attempt 
without further delay, and arranged with his friends at Rome 
to provide an evening banquet, to which all the conspirators 
were invited, with orders that each should bring with him 
his most trust-worthy friends, and himself promised to be 
with them before the entertainment was served. Everything 
was done according to his orders, and Stefano Porcari arrived 
at the place appointed. Supper being brought in, he entered 
the apartment dressed in cloth of gold, with rich ornaments 
about his neck, to give him a dignified appearance and com- 
manding aspect. Having embraced the company, he deli- 
vered a long oration to dispose their minds to the glorious 
undertaking. He then arranged the measures to be adopted, 
ordering that one part of them should, on the following 
morning, take possession of the pontiff's palace, and that the 
other should call the people of Rome to arms. The affair 
came to the knowledge of the pope the same night, some say- 
by treachery among the conspirators, and others that hi 
knew of Porcari's presence at Rome. Be this as it may, 
on the night of the supper Stefano, and the greater part of 
his associates, were arrested, and afterwards expiated their 
crime by death. Thus ended his enterprise ; and though 
some may applaud his intentions, he must stand chargeable 
with deficiency of understanding ; for such undertaking, 
though possessing some slight appearance of glory, are almost 
always attended with ruin. 

The war in Tuscany had continued about a year, and in 
the spring of 1453 the armies again took the field. Ales- 
sandro Sforza, the duke's brother, came with two thousand 
horse to the assistance of the Florentines, who, with this in- 
crease of force, attcmrrted the recovery of the places they 

294- HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. vi. ch. 6. a.d. 1453. 

had lost, and obtained some of them without much trouble. 
They then besieged Fojano, which, through the negligence of 
the commissaries, was pillaged, and the inhabitants being 
dispersed, could only be induced to return, by granting them 
various exemptions and immunities, and even then, with dif- 
ficulty. The Rocca di Vada was also recovered ; for the 
enemy finding they could not retain possession, first burnt, 
and then abandoned it. Whilst these exploits were being 
effected by the Florentine army, the Arragonese forces, not 
having dared to approach the enemy, established themselves 
near Sienna, and made many incursions upon the Florentine 
territory, where the tumults and robberies they committed, 
spread great alarm. Nor did the king fail to attempt in other 
\va\s to injure his enemies, divide their forces, and weaken 
them by indirect attacks. 

Gherardo Gambacorti was lord of Val di Bagno, and his 
ancestors as well as himself had always been in the pay or 
under the protection of the Florentines. Alfonso endeavoured 
to induce him to exchange his territory for another in the 
kingdom of Naples. This became known to the Signory, 
who, in order to ascertain his designs, sent an ambassador to 
Gambacorti, to remind him of the obligations of his ances- 
tors and himself to their republic, and induce him to con- 
tinue faithful to them. Gherardo affected the greatest 
astonishment, assured the ambassador with solemn oaths 
that no such treacherous thought had ever entered his 
mind, and that he would gladly go to Florence and pledge 
himself for the truth of his assertions ; but being unable, 
from indisposition, he would send his son as an host- 
age. These assurances, and the proposal with which they 
were accompanied, induced the Florentines to think Gher- 
ardo had been slandered, and that his accuser must be 
alike weak and treacherous. Gherardo, however, hastened 
his negotiation with redoubled zeal, and having arranged 
the terms, Alfonso sent Frate Puccio, a knight of Jeru- 
salem, with a strong body of men to the Val di Bagno, to 
take possession of the fortresses and towns, the people of 
which being attached to the Florentine republic, submitted 

Frate Puccio had already taken possession of nearly the 
whole territory, except the fortress of Corzano. Gambacorti 

B. vi. ch. 6. ad. 1453. TREACHERY OF GIIERARDO. 295 

was accompanied, whilst transferring his dominions, by 
a young Pisan of great courage and address, named An- 
tonio Gualandi, who, considering the whole affair, the 
strength of the place, the well known bravery of the garri- 
son, their evident reluctance to give it up, and the baseness 
of Gambacorti, at once resolved to make an effort to prevent 
the fulfilment of his design ; and Gherardo being at the en- 
trance, for the purpose of introducing the Arragonese, he 
pushed him out with both his hands, and commanded the 
guards to shut the gate upon such a scoundrel, and hold the 
fortress for the Florentine republic. When this circumstance 
became known in Bagno and the neighbouring places, the 
inhabitants took up arms against the king's forces, and, rais- 
ing the Florentine standard, drove them out. The Floren- 
tines learning these events, imprisoned Gherardo's son, and 
sent troops to Bagno for the defence of the territory, which 
having hitherto been governed by its own prince, now be- 
came a vicariate. The traitor Gherardo escaped with diffi- 
culty, leaving his wife, family, and all his property, in the 
hands of those whom he had endeavoured to betray. This 
affair was considered by the Florentines of great importance; 
for had the king succeeded in securing the territory, he 
might have overrun the Val di Tavere and the Casentino at 
his pleasure, and would have caused so much annoyance, 
that they could no longer have allowed their whole force to 
act against the army of the Arragonese at Sienna. 

In addition to the preparations made by the Florentines in 
Italy to resist the hostile league, they sent as ambassador, 
Agnolo Acciajuoli, to request the king of France would allow 
Rene of Anjou to enter Italy in favour of the duke and 
themselves, and also, that by his presence in the country, he 
might defend his friends and attempt the recovery of the 
kingdom of Naples ; for which purpose they offered him as- 
sistance in men and money. Whilst the war was proceeding 
in Lombardy and Tuscany, the ambassador effected an ar- 
rangement with King Rene, who promised to come into Italy 
during the month of June, the league engaging to pay him 
thirty thousand florins upon his arrival at Alexandria, and 
ten thousand per month during the continuance of the war. 
In pursuance of this treaty, King Rene commenced his march 
into Italy, but was stopped by the duke of Savoy and the 

296 HISTOEY OF FLORENCE. B. vr. ch. 6. A.n. 1453. 

marquis of Montferrat, who, being in alliance with the Vene- 
tians, would not allow him to pass. The Florentine ambas- 
sador advised, that in order to uphold the influence of his 
his friends, he should return to Provence, and conduct part 
of his forces into Italy by sea, and, in the meantime, en- 
deavour, by the authority of the king of France, to obtain a 
passage for the remainder through the territories of the duke. 
This plan was completely successful; for Rene came into 
Italy by sea, and his forces, by the mediation of the king of 
France, were allowed a passage through Savoy. King Rene 
was most honourably received by Duke Francesco, ancyoining 
his French with the Italian forces, they attacked the Vene- 
tians with so much impetuosity, that they shortly recovered 
all the places which had been taken in the Cremonese. Not 
content with this, they occupied nearly the whole Brescian 
territory ; so that the Venetians, unable to keep the field, 
withdrew close to the walls of Brescia. 

Winter coming on, the duke deemed it advisable to re- 
tire into quarters, and appointed Piacenza for the forces of 
Rene, where, having passed the whole of the cold season of 
14o3, without attempting anything, the duke thought of 
taking the field, on the approach of spring, and stripping 
the Venetians of the remainder of their possessions by land, 
but was informed by the king, that he was obliged of neces- 
sity to return to France. This determination was quite new 
and unexpected to the duke, and caused him the utmost 
concern ; but though he immediately went to dissuade 
Rene from carrying it into effect, he was unable either by 
promises or entreaties to divert him from his purpose. He 
engaged, however, to leave part of his forces, and send his 
son for the service of the league. The Florentines were 
not displeased at this ; for having recovered their territories 
and castles, they were no longer in fear of Alfonso, and on 
the other hand, they did not wish the duke to obtain any 
part of Lombardy but what belonged to him. Rene took 
his departure, and sent his son John into Italy, according to 
his promise, who did not remain in Lombardy, but came 
direct to Florence, where he was received with the highest 

The king's departure made the duke desirous of peace. 
The Venetians, Alfonso, and the Florentines, being all weary 

U vi. CH. G. a.o. 1454. CONSTANTINOPLE TAKEN. 297 

of the war, were similarly disposed ; and the pope continued 
to wish it as much as ever ; for during this year the Turkish 
emperor, Mohammed, had taken Constantinople and subdued 
the whole of Greece. This conquest alarmed the Christians, 
more especially the Venetians and the pope, who already 
began to fancy the Mohammedans at their doors. The pope 
therefore begged the Italian potentates to send ambassadors 
to himself, with authority to negotiate a general peace, with 
which all complied ; but when the particular circumstances 
of each case came to be considered, many difficulties were 
found in the way of effecting it. King Alfonso required the 
Florentines to reimburse the expenses he had incurred in 
the war, and the Florentines demanded some compensation 
from him. The Venetians thought themselves entitled to 
Cremona from the duke ; whilst he insisted upon the res- 
toration of Bergamo, Brescia, and Crema ; so that it seemed 
impossible to reconcile such conflicting claims. But what 
could not be effected by a number at Rome was easily man- 
aged at Milan and Venice by two ; for while the matter was un- 
der discussion at Rome, the duke and the Venetians came to 
an arrangement, on the 9th of April, 1454, by virtue of which, 
each party resumed what they possessed before the war, 
the duke being allowed to recover from the princes of Mont- 
ferrat and Savoy the places they had taken. To the other 
Italian powers a month was allowed to ratify the treaty. 
The pope and the Florentines, and with them the Siennese 
and other minor powers acceded to it within the time. Be- 
sides this, the Florentines, the Venetians, and the duke con- 
cluded a treaty of peace for twenty-five years. King Alfonso 
alone exhibited dissatisfaction at what had taken place, 
thinking he had not been sufficiently considered, that he 
stood, not on the footing of a principal, but only ranked as 
an auxiliary, and therefore kept aloof, and would not disclose 
his intentions. However, after receiving a legate from the 
pope, and many solemn embassies from other powers, he 
allowed himself to be persuaded, principally by means of 
the pontiff, and with his son joined the league for thirty 
years. The duke and the king also contracted a twofold 
relationship and double marriage, each giving a daughter 
to a son of the other. Notwithstanding this, that Italy 
might still retain the seeds of Avar, Alfonso would not 

298 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. vr. ch. 6. a.d. 1455. 

consent to the peace, unless the league would allow him, 
without injury to themselves, to make war upon the Ge- 
noese, Gismondo Malatesti, and Astorre, prince of Faenza. 
This being conceded, his son Ferrando, who was at Sienna, 
returned to the kingdom, having by his coming into Tus- 
cany acquired no dominion and lost a great number of his 

Upon the establishment of a general peace, the only ap- 
prehension entertained was, that it would be disturbed by 
the animosity of Alfonso against the Genoese ; yet it hap- 
pened otherwise. The king, indeed, did not openly in- 
fringe the peace, but, it was frequently broken by the 
ambition of the mercenary troops. The Venetians, as usual 
on the conclusion of a war, had discharged Jacopo Picci- 
nino, who with some other unemployed condottieri, marched 
into Romagna, thence into the Siennese, and halting in the 
country, took possession of many places. At the com- 
mencement of these disturbances, and the beginning of the 
year 1455, Pope Nicholas died, and was succeeded by Ca- 
lixtus III., who, to put a stop to the war newly broken 
out so near home, immediately sent Giovanni Ventimiglia, 
his general, with what forces he could furnish. These being 
joined by the troops of the Florentines and the duke of 
Milan, both of whom furnished assistance, attacked Jacopo, 
near Bolsena, and though Ventimiglia was taken prisoner, 
yet Jacopo was worsted, and retreated in disorder to Casti- 
glione della Pescaia, where, had he not been assisted by 
Alfonso, his force would have been completely annihilated. 
This made it evident that Jacopo's movement had been 
made by order of Alfonso, and the latter, as if palpably 
detected, to conciliate his allies, after having almost alien- 
ated them with this unimportant w r ar, ordered Jacopo to 
restore to the Siennese the places he had taken, and they 
gave him twenty thousand florins by way of ransom, after 
which he and his forces were received into the kingdom of 

B. vr. cir. 7. a.d. 1455. PROGRESS OF THE TURKS. 299 


Christendom alarmed by the progress of the Turks — The Turks routed 
before Belgrade — Description of a remarkable hurricane — War against 
the Genoese and Gismondo Malatesti — Genoa submits to the king of 
France — Death of Alfonso king of Naples — Succeeded by his son 
Ferrando — The pope designs to give the kingdom of Naples to his 
nephew Piero Lodovico Borgia — Eulogy of Pius II. — Disturbances in 
Genoa between John of Anjou and the Fregosi — The Fregosi subdued — 
John attacks the kingdom of Naples — Ferrando king of Naples routed 
— Ferrando re-instated — The Geneose cast off the French yoke — John 
of Anjou routed in the kingdom of Naples. 

The Pope, though anxious to restrain Jacopo Piccinino, did 
not neglect to make provision for the defence of Christen- 
dom, which seemed in danger from the Turks. He sent 
ambassadors and preachers into every Christian country, to 
exhort princes and people to arm in defence of their re- 
ligion, and with their persons and property to contribute to 
the enterprise against the common enemy. In Florence, 
large sums were raised, and many citizens bore the mark of 
a red cross upon their dress to intimate their readiness to 
become soldiers of the faith. Solemn processions were made, 
and nothing was neglected either in public or private, to 
show their willingness to be among the most forward to assist 
the enterprise with money, counsel, or men. But the eager- 
ness for this crusade was somewhat abated, by learning that 
the Turkish army, being at the siege of Belgrade, a strong 
city and fortress in Hungary, upon the banks of the Danube, 
had been routed and the emperor wounded; so that the 
alarm felt by the pope and all Christendom, on the loss of 
Constantinople, having ceased to operate, they proceeded 
more deliberately with their preparations for war ; and in 
Hungary their zeal was cooled through the death of Giovanni 
Corvino the \Vai\vode, who commanded the Hungarian forces 
on that memorable occasion, and fell in the battle. 

To return to the affairs of Italy. In the year 1456, the dis- 
turbances occasioned by Jacopo Piccinino having subsided, 
and human weapons laid aside, the heavens seemed to make 
war against the earth ; dreadful tempestuous winds then 

300 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. vi. ch. 7. a.d, 145ft. 

occurring, which produced effects unprecedented in Tuscany, 
and which to posterity will appear marvellous and unaccount- 
able. On the 24th of August, about an hour before day-break, 
there arose from the Adriatic near Ancona, a whirlwind, 
which crossing Italy from east to west, again reached the sea 
near Pisa, accompanied by thick clouds, and the most in- 
tense and impenetrable darkness, covering a breadth of 
about two miles in the direction of its course. Under 
some natural or supernatural influence., this vast and over- 
charged volume of condensed vapour burst ; its fragments 
contended with indiscribable fury, and huge bodies sometimes 
ascending towards heaven, and sometimes precipitated upon 
the earth, struggled, as it were, in mutual conflict, whirling 
in circles with intense velocity, and accompanied by winds, 
impetuous beyond all conception ; whilst flashes of aw- 
ful brilliancy, and murky, lurid flames incessantly broke 
forth. From these confused clouds, furious winds, and 
momentary fires, sounds issued, of which no earthquake or 
thunder ever heard could afford the least idea ; striking such 
awe into all, that it was thought the end of the world had 
arrived, that the earth, waters, heavens, and entire universe, 
mingling together, were being resolved into their ancient 
chaos. Wherever this awful tempest passed, it produced un- 
precedented and marvellous effects ; but these were more 
especially experienced near the castle of St. Casciano, about 
eight miles from Florence, upon the hill which separates the 
valleys of Pisa and Grieve. Between this castle and the 
Borgo St. Andrea, upon the same hill, the tempest passed 
without touching the latter, and in the former, only threw 
down some of the battlements and the chimneys of a few 
houses ; but in the space between them, it levelled many 
buildings quite to the ground. The roofs of the churches of 
St. Martin, at Bagnolo, and Santa Maria della Pace, were 
carried more than a mile, unbroken as when upon their respec- 
tive edifices. A muleteer and his beasts were driven from 
the road into the adjoining valley, and found dead. All the 
large oaks and lofty trees which could not bend beneath its 
influence, were not only stripped of their branches but borne 
to a great distance from the places where they grew, and 
when the tempest had passed over and daylight made the 
desolation visible, the inhabitants were transfixed with' dis- 

B. vr. en. 7. a n. 1458. HUBBICAXE IX TUSCANY. 301 

may. The country had lost all its habitable character ; 
churches and dwellings were laid in heaps ; nothing was 
heard but the lamentations of those whose possessions had 
perished, or whose cattle or friends were hurried beneath 
the ruins ; and all who witnessed the scene were filled with 
anguish or compassion. It was doubtless the design of the 
Omnipotent, rather to threaten Tuscany than to chastise her ; 
for had the hurricane been directed over the city, filled 
with houses and inhabitants, instead of proceeding among 
oaks and elms, or small and thinly scattered dwellings, it 
would have been such a scourge as the mind, with all its 
ideas of horror, could not have conceived. But the Almighty 
desired that this slight example should suffice to recall 
the minds of men to a knowledge of himself and of his 

To return to our history. King Alfonso was dissatisfied 
with the peace, and as the war which he had unnecessarily 
caused Jacopo Piccinino to make against the Siennese, had 
produced no important result, he resolved to try what could 
be done against those whom the conditions of the league 
permitted him to attack. He therefore, in the year 1456, 
assailed the Genoese, both by sea and by land, designing to 
deprive the Fregosi of the government and restore the Ad- 
orni. At the same time, he ordered Jacopo Piccinino to 
cross the Tronto, and attack Gismondo Malatesti, who, hav- 
ing fortified his territories, did not concern himself, and 
this part of the king's enterprise produced no effect ; but 
his proceedings against Genoa occasioned more wars against 
himself and his kingdom than he could have wished. Piero 
Fregoso was then doge of Genoa, and doubting his ability to 
sustain the attack of the king, he determined to give what 
he could not hold, to some one who might defend it against 
his enemies, in hope, that at a future period, he should obtain 
a return for the benefit conferred. He therefore sent ambas- 
sadors to Charles VII., of France, and offered him the go- 
vernment of Genoa. Charles accepted the offer, and sent 
John of Anjou, the son of King Rene, who had a short time 
previously left Florence and returned to France, to take pos- 
session, with the idea, that he, having learned the manners 
and customs of Italy, would be able to govern the city ; and 
also that this might give him an opportunity of undertaking 

302 1IISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. vi. ch. 7. a.d. 1457. 

the conquest of Naples, of which Rene, John's father, had 
been deprived by Alfonso. John, therefore, proceeded to Ge- 
noa, where he was received as prince, and the fortresses, both 
of the city and the government, given up to him. This 
annoyed Alfonso, with the fear that he had brought upon 
himself too powerful an enemy. He was not, however, dis- 
mayed ; but pursued his enterprise vigorously, and had led 
his fleet to Porto, below Villamarina, when he died after a 
sudden illness, and thus John and the Genoese were relieved 
from the war. Ferrando, who succeeded to the kingdom 
of his father Alfonso, became alarmed at having so powerful 
an enemy in Italy, and was doubtful of the disposition of 
many of his barons, who being desirous of change, he feared 
would take part with the French. He was also apprehen- 
sive of the pope, whose ambition he well knew, and who, 
seeing him new in the government, might design to take it 
from him. He had no hope except from the duke of Milan, 
who entertained no less anxiety concerning the affairs of the 
kingdom than Ferrando ; for he feared that if the French 
were to obtain it, they would endeavour to annex his own 
dominions ; which he knew they considered to be rightfully 
their own. He, therefore, soon after the death of Alfonso, 
sent letters and forces to Ferrando ; the latter to give him 
aid and influence, the former to encourage him with an in- 
timation, that he would not, under any circumstances, forsake 
him. The pontiff intended, after the death of Alfonso, to 
give the kingdom of Naples to his nephew Piero Lodovico 
Borgia, and, to furnish a decent pretext for his design and 
obtain the concurrence of the powers of Italy in its favour, 
he signified a wish to restore that realm to the dominion of 
the church of Rome ; and therefore persuaded the duke not 
to assist Ferrando. But in the midst of these views and 
opening enterprises, Calixtus died, and Pius II. of Siennese 
origin, of the family of the Piccolomini, and by nameiEneas, 
succeeded to the pontificate. This pontiff, free from the ties 
of private interest, having no object but to benefit Christen- 
dom and honour the church, at the duke's entreaty crowned 
Ferrando king of Naples ; judging it easier to establish 
peace if the kingdom remained in the hands which at present 
held it, than if he were to favour the views of the French, 
or, as Calixtus purposed, take it for himself. Ferrando, in 

B. vt. ch. 7. a.d. 1459, PIETRINO FREGOSI SLAIN. 303 

acknowledgment of the benefit, created Antonio, one of the 
pope's nephews, prince of Main, gave him an illegitimate 
daughter of his own in marriage, and restored Benevento 
and Terracina to the church. 

It thus appeared that the internal dissensions of Italy 
might be quelled, and the pontiff prepared to induce the 
powers of Christendom to unite in an enterprise against the 
Turks (as Calixtus had previously designed), when differences 
arose between the Fregosi and John of Anjou, the lord of 
Genoa, which occasioned greater and more important wars 
than those recently concluded. Pietrino Fregoso was at his 
castle of Riviera, and thought he had not been rewarded by 
John in proportion to his family's merits ; for it was by their 
means the latter had become prince of the city. This im- 
pression drove the parties into open enmity ; a circumstance 
gratifying to Ferrando, who saw in it relief from his troubles, 
and the sole means of procuring his safety : he there- 
fore assisted Pietrino with money and men, trusting to 
drive John out of the Genoese territory. The latter being 
aware of his design, sent for aid to France ; and, on obtaining 
it, attacked Pietrino, who, through his numerous friends, en- 
tertained the strongest assurance of success ; so that John 
was compelled to keep within the city, into which Pietrino 
having entered by night, took possession of some parts of it ; 
but upon the return of day, his people were all either slain 
or made prisoners by John's troops, and he himself was found 
among the dead. 

This victory gave John hopes of recovering the kingdom ; 
and in October, 1459, he sailed thither from Genoa, with a 
powerful fleet, and landed at Baia ; whence he proceeded to 
Sessa, by the duke of which place he was favourably received. 
The prince of Taranto, the Aquilani, with several cities and 
other princes, also joined him ; so that a great part of the 
kingdom fell into his hands. On this, Ferrando applied for 
assistance to the pope and the duke of Milan; and, to 
diminish the number of his enemies, made peace with Gis- 
mondo Malatesti, which gave so much offence to Jacopo 
Piccinino, the hereditary enemy of Gismondo, that he re- 
signed his command under Ferrando, and joined his rival. 
Ferrando also sent money to Federigo, lord of Urbino, and 
collected with all possible speed what was in those times con- 

304 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. vi. en. 7. a.d. HC2. 

sidered a tolerable army ; which, meeting the enemy upon 
the river Sarni, an engagement ensued in which Ferrando was 
routed, and many of his principal officers taken. After this 
defeat the city of Naples alone, with a few smaller places 
and princes of inferior note, adhered to Ferrando, the greater 
part having submitted to John. Jacopo Piccinino, alter the 
victory, advised an immediate march upon Naples ; but John 
declined this, saying, he would first reduce the remainder of 
the kingdom, and then attack the seat of government. This 
resolution occasioned the failure of his enterprise ; for he 
did not consider how much more easily the members follow 
the head than the head the members. 

After his defeat, Ferrando took refuge in Naples, whither 
the scattered remnants of his people followed him ; and by 
soliciting his friends, he obtained money and a small force. 
He sent again for assistance to the pope and the duke, by 
both of whom he was supplied more liberally and speedily 
than before ; for they began to entertain most serious appre- 
hensions of his losing the kingdom. His hopes were thus 
revived ; and, marching from Naples, he regained his repu- 
tation in his dominions, and soon obtained the places of 
which he had been deprived. While the war was proceeding 
in the kingdom, a circumstance occurred by which John of 
Anjou lost his influence, and all chance of success in the 
enterprise. The Genoese had become so weary of the 
haughty and avaricious dominion of the French, that they 
took arms against the viceroy, and compelled him to seek 
refuge in the castelletto ; the Fregosi and the Adorni united 
in the enterprise against him, and were assisted with money 
and troops by the duke of Milan, both for the recovery and 
preservation of the government. At the same time, King 
Rene coming with a fleet to the assistance of his son, and 
hoping to recover Genoa by means of the castelletto, upon 
landing his forces was so completely routed, that he was 
compelled to return in disgrace to Provence. When the 
news of his father"s defeat reached Naples, John was greatly 
alarmed, but continued the war for a time by the assist- 
ance of those barons who, being rebels, knew they would 
obtain no terms from Ferrando. At length, after various 
trifling occurrences, the two royal armies came to an engage- 
ment, in which John was routed near Troia, in the year 1463. 

n. vii. ch. 1. a.d. 1453. DOMESTIC AFFAIRS. 305 

lie was, however, less injured by his defeat than by the 
desertion of Jacopo Piccinino, who joined Ferrando ; and, 
being abandoned by his troops, he was compelled to take 
refuge in Istria, and thence withdrew to France. This war 
continued four years. John's failure was attributable to neg- 
ligence ; for victory was often within his grasp, but he did 
not take proper means to secure it. The Florentines took no 
decisive part in this war. John, king of Arragon, who suc- 
ceeded upon the death of Alfonso, sent ambassadors to 
request their assistance for his nephew Ferrando, in com- 
pliance with the terms of the treaty recently made with his 
father Alfonso. The Florentines replied, that they were 
under no obligation ; that they did not think proper to assist 
the son in a war commenced by the father with his own 
forces ; and that as it was begun without either their counsel 
or knowledge, it must be continued and concluded without 
their help. The ambassadors affirmed the engagement to be 
binding on the Florentines, and themselves to be answerable 
for the event of the war ; and then in great anger left the 

Thus with regard of external affairs, the Florentines con- 
tinued tranquil during this war ; but the case was otherwise 
with their domestic concerns, as will be particularly shown in 
the following book. 



Connexion of the other Italian governments with the history of Florence — 
Republics always disunited — Some differences are injurious ; others not 
so — The kind of dissensions prevailing at Florence — Cosmo de' Medici 
and Neri Capponi become powerful by dissimilar means — Reform in the 
election of magistrates favourable to Cosmo — Complaints of the prin- 
cipal citizens against the reform in elections — Luca Pitti, gonfalonier of 
justice, restrains the imborsations by force — Tyranny and pride of Lucca 
Pitti and his party — Palace of the Pitti — Death of Cosmo de' Medici 
— His liberality and magnificence — His modesty — His prudence — 
Sayings of Cosmo. 

It will perhaps appear to the readers of the preceding book 
that, professing only to write of the affairs of Florence, I 


have -dilated too much in speaking of those which occurred 
in Lombardy and Naples. But as I have not already avoided, 
so it is not my intention in future to forbear similar digres- 
sions. For although we have not engaged to give an account 
of the affairs of Italy, still it would be improper to neglect 
noticing the most remarkable of them. If they were 
wholly omitted, our history would not be so well understood, 
neither would it be so instructive or agreeable ; since, 
from the proceedings of the other princes and states of Italy, 
have most commonly arisen those wars in which the Flo- 
rentines were compelled to take part. Thus, from the war 
between John of Anjou and King Ferrando, originated those 
serious enmities and hatred which ensued between Ferrando 
and the Florentines, particularly the house of Medici. The 
king complained of a want of assistance during the war, and 
of the aid afforded to his enemy ; and from his anger 
originated the greatest evils, as will be hereafter seen. 
Having, in speaking of external affairs, come down to the 
year 1463, it will be necessary, in order to make our narrative 
of the contemporaneous domestic transactions clearly under- 
stood, to revert to a period several years back. But first, 
according to custom, I would offer a few remarks referring 
to the events about to be narrated, and observe, that those who 
think a republic may be kept in perfect unity of purpose are 
greatly deceived. True it is, that some divisions injure re- 
publics, whilst others are beneficial to them. When accom- 
panied by factions and parties they are injurious ; but when 
maintained without them they contribute to their prosperity. 
The legislator of a republic, since it is impossible to prevent 
the existence of dissensions, must at least take care to pre- 
vent the growth of faction. It may therefore be observed, 
that citizens acquire reputation and power in two ways ; the 
one public the other private. Influence is acquired publicly 
by winning a battle, taking possession of a territory, ful- 
filling the duties of an embassy with care and prudence, or 
by giving wise counsel attended by a happy result. Private 
methods are, conferring benefits upon individuals, defend- 
ing them against the magistrates, supporting them with 
money, and raising them to undeserved honours ; or with 
public games and entertainments gaining the affection of 
the populace. This mode of procedure produces parties and 

B. vii. ch. 1. A.i>. 1455. COSMO AND NERI. 307 

cliques ; and in proportion as influence thus acquired is in- 
jurious, so is the former beneficial, if quite free from party 
spirit ; because it is founded upon the public good, and not 
upon private advantage. And though it is impossible to 
prevent the existence of inveterate feuds, still if they be 
without partisans to support them for their own individual 
benefit, they do not injure a republic, but contribute to its 
welfare ; since none can attain distinction but as he con- 
tributes to her good, and each party prevents the other from 
infringing her liberties. The dissensions of Florence were 
always accompanied by factions, and were therefore always 
pernicious ; and the dominant party only remained united so 
long as its enemies held it in check. As soon as the strength 
of the opposition was annihilated, the government, deprived 
of the restraining influence of its adversaries, and being 
subject to no law, fell to pieces. The party of Cosmo de' 
Medici gained the ascendant in 1434; but the depressed 
party being very numerous, and composed of several very 
influential persons, fear kept the former united, and restrained 
their proceedings within the bounds of moderation, so that 
no violence was committed by them, nor anything done cal- 
culated to excite popular dislike. Consequently, whenever 
this government required the citizens' aid to recover or 
strengthen its influence, the latter were always willing to 
gratify its wishes ; so that from 1434 to 1455, during a 
period of twenty-one years, the authority of a balia was 
granted to it six times. 

There were in Florence, as we have frequently observed, 
two principally powerful citizens, Cosmo de' Medici and Neri 
Capponi. Neri acquired his influence by public services ; so 
that he had many friends but few partisans. Cosmo, being 
able to avail himself both of public and private means, had 
many partisans as well as friends. While both lived, having 
always been united, they obtained from the people whatever 
they required ; for in them popularity and power were 
united. But in the year 1455, Neri being dead, and the 
opposition party extinct, the government found a difficulty in 
resuming its authority ; and this was occasioned, remarkably 
enough, by Cosmo's private friends, and the most influential 
men in the state ; for, not fearing the opposite party, they 
became anxious to abate his power. This inconsistency was 

x 2 

308 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. vir. ch. 1. a.d. 143P. 

the beginning of the evils which took place in 1456 ; so that 
those in power were openly advised in the deliberative 
councils not to renew the power of the balia, but to close 
the balloting purses, and appoint the magistrates by drawing 
from the pollings or squittini previously made. To restrain 
this disposition, Cosmo had the choice of two alternatives, 
either forcibly to assume the government, with the partisans 
he possessed, and drive out the others, or to allow the matter 
to take it course, and let his friends see they were not de- 
priving him of power, but rather themselves. He chose 
the latter ; for he well knew that at all events the purses 
being filled with the names of his own friends, he incurred 
no risk, and could take the government into his own hands 
whenever he found occasion. The chief offices of state 
being again filled by lot, the mass of the people began to 
think they had recovered their liberty, and that the decisions 
of the magistrates were according to their own judgments, 
unbiassed by the influence of the great. At the same time, 
the friends of different grandees were humbled ; and many 
who had commonly seen their houses filled with suitors and 
presents, found themselves destitute of both. Those who 
who had previously been very powerful were reduced to an 
equality with men whom they had been accustomed to con- 
sider inferior ; and those formerly far beneath them were 
now become their equals. No respect or deference was paid 
to them ; they were often ridiculed and derided ; and fre- 
quently heard themselves and the republic mentioned in the 
open streets without the least deference ; thus they found 
it was not Cosmo but themselves that had lost the govern- 
ment. Cosmo appeared not to notice these matters ; and 
whenever any subject was proposed in favour of the people 
he was the first to support it. But the greatest cause of 
alarm to the higher classes, and his most favourable oppor- 
tunity of retaliation, was the revival of the catasto, or pro- 
perty-tax of 1427, so that individual contributions were 
determined by statute, and not by a set of persons appointed 
for its regulation. 

This law being re-established, and a magistracy created to 
carry it into effect, the nobility assembled, and went to Cosmo 
to beg he would rescue them and himself from the power 
of the plebeians, and restore to the government the reputation 

R. vu. ch. 1. a.d. 1458. LUCA PITTI. 309 

which had made himself powerful and them respected. He 
replied, he was willing to comply with their request, but wished 
the law to be obtained in the regular manner, by consent of 
the people, and not by force, of which he would not hear on 
any account. They then endeavoured in the councils to 
establish a new balia, but did not succeed. On this the 
grandees again came to Cosmo, and most humbly begged he 
would assemble the people in a general council or parliament ; 
but this he refused, for he wished to make them sensible of 
their great mistake ; and when Donato Cocchi, being gon- 
falonier of justice, proposed to assemble them without his 
consent, the Signors who were of Cosmo's party ridiculed 
the idea so unmercifully, that the man's mind actually 
became deranged, and he had to retire from office in conse- 
quence. '^However, since it is undesirable to allow matters 
to proceed beyond recovery, the gonfalon of justice being 
in the hands of Luca Pitti, a bold-spirited man, Cosmo 
determined to let him adopt what course he thought 
proper, that if any trouble should arise it might be imputed 
to Luca and not to himself. Luca, therefore, in the begin- 
ning of his magistracy,, several times proposed to the people 
the appointment of a new balia ; and, not succeeding, he 
threatened the members of the councils with injurious 
and arrogant expressions, which were shortly followed 
by corresponding conduct; for in the month of August, 
1458, on the eve of Saint Lorenzo, having filled the palace 
with armed men, he assembled the people in the piazza, and 
and compelled them to assent to a measure to which he knew 
them to be averse. Having recovered power, created a new 
balia, and filled the principal offices according to the pleasure 
of a few individuals, in order to commence that government 
with terror which they had obtained by force, they banished 
Girolamo Machiavelli, with some others, and deprived many 
of the honours of government. Girolamo, having trans- 
gressed the confines to which he was limited, was declared a 
rebel. Travelling about Italy, with the design of exciting 
the princes against his country, he was betrayed whilst at 
Lunigiana, and, being brought to Florence, was put to death 
in prison. 

This government, during the eight years it continued was 
violent and insupportable ; for Cosmo, being now old, and 

310 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. a.d.1462. 

tlirough ill health unable to attend to public affairs as formerly, 
Florence became a prey to a small number of her own citizens. 
Luca Pitti, in return for the services he had performed for the 
republic, was made a knight, and to be no less grateful than 
those who had conferred the dignity upon him, he ordered that 
the priors, who had hitherto been called priors of the trades, 
should also have a name to which they had no kind of claim, 
and therefore called them priors of liberty. He also ordered, 
that as it had been customary for the gonfalonier to sit upon 
the right hand of the rectors, he should in future take his 
seat in the midst of them. And that the Deity might ap- 
pear to participate in what had been done, public processions 
were made and solemn services performed, to thank Him for 
the recovery of the government. The Signory and Cosmo 
made Luca Pitti rich presents, and all the citizens were 
emulous in imitation of them ; so that the money given 
amounted to no less a sum than twenty thousand ducats. 
He thus attained such influence, that not Cosmo but himself 
now governed the city ; and his pride so increased, that he 
commenced two superb buildings, one in Florence, the other 
at Ruciano, about a mile distant, both in a style of royal 
magnificence ; that in the city, being larger than any hitherto 
built by a private person. To complete them, he had 
recourse to the most extraordinary means ; for not only citi- 
zens and private individuals made him presents and supplied 
materials, but the mass of people, of every grade, also contri- 
buted. Besides this, any exiles who had committed murders, 
thefts, or other crimes which made them amenable to the 
laws, found a safe refuge within their walls, if they were able 
to contribute towards their decoration or completion. The 
other citizens, though they did not build like him, were no 
less violent or rapacious, so that if Florence were not ha- 
rassed by external wars, she was ruined by the wickedness of 
her own children. During this period the wars of Naples 
took place. The pope also commenced hostilities in Ro- 
magna against the Malatesti, from whom he wished to take 
Rimino and Cesena, held by them. In these designs, and 
his intentions of a crusade against the Turks, was passed the 
pontificate of Pius II. 

Florence continued in disunion and disturbance. The dis- 
sensions commenced among the party of Cosmo, in 1455, 

H. vir. cii.1. a.d. 1464. 



from the causes already related, which by his prudence, as we 
have also before remarked, he was enabled to tranquillize ; but 
in the year 1464, his illness increased, and he died. Friends and 
enemies alike grieved for his loss ; for his political opponents, 
perceiving the rapacity of the citizens, even during the life 
of him who alone restrained them and made their tyranny 
supportable, were afraid, lest after his decease, nothing but 
ruin would ensue. Nor had they much hope of his son Piero, 
who though a very good man, was of infirm health, and new 
in the government, and they thought he would be compelled 
to give way ; so that, being unrestrained, their rapacity would 
pass all bounds. On these accounts, the regret was univer- 
sal. Of all who have left memorials behind them, and who 
were not of the military profession, Cosmo was the most illus- 
trious and the most renowned. He not only surpassed all 
his cotemporaries in wealth and authority, but also in gene- 
rosity and prudence ; and among the qualities which contri- 
buted to make him prince in his own country, was his 
surpassing all others in magnificence and generosity. His 
liberality became more obvious after his death, when Piero, 
his son, wishing to know what he possessed, it appeared 
there was no citizen of any consequence to whom Cosmo had 
not lent a large sum of money ; and often, when informed of 
some nobleman being in distress, he relieved him unasked. 
His magnificence is evident from the number of public edi- 
fices he erected ; for in Florence are the convents and 
churches of St. Marco and St. Lorenzo, and the monastery of 
Santa Verdiana ; in the mountains of Fiesole, the church 
and abbey of St. Girolamo ; and in the Mugello, he not 
only restored, but rebuilt from its foundation, a monastery of 
the Frati Minori, or Minims. Besides these, in the church 
of Santa Croce, the Servi, the Agnoli, and in San Miniato, 
he erected splendid chapels and altars ; and besides building 
the churches and chapels we have mentioned, he provided 
them with all the ornaments, furniture, and utensils suitable 
for the performance of divine service. To these sacred edi- 
fices are to be added, his private dwellings, one in Florence, 
of extent and elegance adapted to so great a citizen, and four 
others, situate at Careggi, Fiesole, Cafaggiuolo, and Trebbio, 
each, for size and grandeur, equal to royal palaces. And, as 
if it were not sufficient to be distinguished for magnificence 

312 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. ch. 1. A.D. 1464 

of buildings in Italy alone, he erected an hospital at Jerusa- 
lem, for the reception of poor and infirm pilgrims. Although 
his habitations, like all his other works and actions, were 
quite of a regal character, and he alone was prince in Flo- 
rence, still everything was so tempered with his prudence, 
that he never transgressed the decent moderation of civil 
life ; in his conversation, his servants, his travelling, his 
mode of living, and the relationships he formed, the modest 
demeanour of the citizen was always evident ; for he was 
aware that a constant exhibition of pomp brings more envy upon 
its possessor than greater realities borne without ostentation. 
Thus in selecting consorts for his sons, he did not seek the 
alliance of princes, but for Giovanni chose Corneglia degli 
Alessandri, and for Piero, Lucrezia de' Tornabuoni. He 
gave his grand-daughters, the children of Piero, Bianca to 
Guglielmo de' Pazzi, and Nannina to Bernardo Ruccellai. 
No one of his time possessed such an intimate knowledge 
of government and state affairs as himself ; and hence amid 
such a variety of fortune, in a city so given to change, and 
amongst a people of such extreme inconstancy, he retained 
possession of the government thirty-one years ; for being en- 
dowed with the utmost prudence, he foresaw evils at a dis- 
tance, and therefore had an opportunity either of averting 
them, or preventing their injurious results. He thus not 
only vanquished domestic and civil ambition, but humbled 
the pride of many princes with so much fidelity and address, 
that whatever powers were in league with himself and his 
country, either overcame their adversaries, or remained un- 
injured by his alliance ; and whoever were opposed to him, 
lost either their time, money, or territory. Of this the Ve- 
netians afford a sufficient proof, who, whilst in league with 
him against Duke Filippo were always victorious, but apart 
from him were always conquered ; first by Filippo and then 
by Francesco. When they joined Alfonso against the Flo- 
rentine republic, Cosmo, by his commercial credit, so drained 
Naples and Venice of money, that they were glad to obtain 
peace upon any terms it was thought proper to grant 
Whatever difficulties he had to contend with, whether with- 
in the city or without, he brought to a happy issue, at once 
glorious to himself and destructive to his enemies ; so that 
civil discord strengthened his government in Florence, and 

B. vn. en. 1. a.d. 14G4- SATIXGS OF COSMO. 313 

war increased his power and reputation abroad. He added 
to the Florentine dominions, the Borgo of St. Sepolcro, Mon- 
tedoglio, the Casentino and Val di Bagno. His virtue and 
good fortune overcame all his enemies and exalted his friends. 
He was born in the year 1389, on the day of the saints 
Cosmo and Damiano. His earlier years were full of trouble, 
as his exile, captivity, and personal danger fully testify ; and 
having gone to the council of Constance, with pope John, 
in order to save his life, after the ruin of the latter, he was 
obliged to escape in disguise. But after the age of forty, he 
enjoyed the greatest felicity; and not only those who as- 
sisted him in public business, but his agents who conducted 
his commercial speculations throughout Europe, participated 
in his prosperity. Hence many enormous fortunes took 
their origin in different families of Florence, as in that of 
the Tornabuoni, the Benci, the Portinari, and the Sassetti. 
Besides these, all who depended upon his advice and patron- 
age became rich; and, though he was constantly expend- 
ing money in building churches, and in charitable pur- 
poses, he sometimes complained to his friends that he had 
never been able to lay out so much in the service of God as 
to find the balance in his own favour, intimating that all he 
had done or could do, was still unequal to what the Almighty 
had done for him. He was of middle stature, olive complexion, 
and venerable aspect ; not learned but exceedingly eloquent, 
endowed with great natural capacity, generous to his friends, 
kind to the poor, comprehensive in discourse, cautious in 
advising, and in his speeches and replies, grave and witty. 
When Rinaldo degli Albizzi, at the beginning of his exile, 
sent to him to say, "the hen had laid," he replied, "she 
did ill to lay so far from the nest." Some other of the rebels 
gave him to understand, they were " not dreaming." He 
said, " he believed it, for he had robbed them of their sleep." 
When Pope Pius was endeavouring to induce the different 
governments to join in an expedition against the Turks, he 
said, " he was an old man, and had undertaken the enterprise 
of a young one." To the Venetian ambassadors who came 
to Florence with those of King Alfonso, to complain of the 
republic, he uncovered his head, and asked them what colour 
it was ; they said, "white:" he replied, " it is so; and it ^viU 
not be long before your senators have heads as white as 

314 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. vir. ch. 1. a.d. 1464. 

mine." A few hours before his deoth, his wife asked him 
why he kept his eyes shut, and he said, " to get them in the 
way of it." Some citizens saying to him, after his return from 
exile, that he injured the city, and that it was offensive to 
God to drive so many religious persons out of it ; he re- 
plied, that, " it was better to injure the city, than to ruin it ; 
that two yards of rose-coloured cloth would make a gentle- 
man, and that it required something more to direct a govern- 
ment than to play with a string of beads." These words 
gave occasion to his enemies to slander him, as a man who 
loved himself more than his country, and was more attached 
to this world than to the next. Many others of his say- 
ings might be adduced, but we shall omit them as un- 
necessary. Cosmo was a friend and patron of learned 
men. He brought Argiripolo, a Greek by birth, and one of 
the most erudite of his time, to Florence, to instruct the 
youth in Hellenic literature. He entertained Marsilio Fi- 
cino, the reviver of the Platonic philosophy, in his own 
house ; and being much attached to him, gave him a re- 
sidence near his palace at Careggi, that he might pursue 
the study of letters with greater convenience, and himself 
have an opportunity of enjoying his company. His prudence, 
his great wealth, the uses to which he applied it, and his splen- 
did style of living, caused him to be beloved and respected 
in Florence, and obtained for him the highest considera- 
tion, not only among the princes and governments of Italy, 
but throughout all Europe. He thus laid a foundation for 
his descendants, which enabled them to equal him in vir- 
tue, and greatly surpass him in fortune ; while the autho- 
rity they possessed in Florence and throughout Christen- 
dom was not obtained without being merited. Towards 
the close of his life he suffered great affliction ; for, of his 
two sons, Piero and Giovanni, the latter, of whom he enter- 
tained his greatest hopes, died ; and the former was so 
sickly as to be unable to attend either to public or private 
business. On being carried from one apartment to another, 
after Giovanni's death, he remarked to his attendants, with a 
sigh, " This is too large a house for so small a family." His 
great mind also felt distressed at the idea that he had not ex- 
tended the Florentine dominions by any valuable acquisition ; 
and he regretted it the more, from imagining he had been 

B. rn. ch. 2. a.d. 1464. FUNERAL OF COSMO. 315 

deceived by Francesco Sforza, who, whilst count, had pro- 
mised, that if he became lord of Milan, he would under- 
take the conquest of Lucca for the Florentines, a design, 
however, that was never realized ; for the count's ideas 
changed upon his becoming duke ; he resolved to enjoy 
in peace, the power he had acquired by war, and would 
not again encounter its fatigues and dangers, unless the 
welfare of his own dominions required it. This was a 
source of much annoyance to Cosmo, who felt he had in- 
curred great expense and trouble for an ungrateful and 
perfidious friend. His bodily infirmities prevented him from 
attending either to public or private affairs, as he had been 
accustomed, and he consequently witnessed both going to 
decay; for Florence was ruined by her own citizens, and 
his fortune by his agents and children. He died, however, 
at the zenith of his glory, and in the enjoyment of the 
highest renown. The city, and all the Christian princes, 
condoled with his son Piero for his loss. His funeral was 
conducted with the utmost pomp and solemnity, the whole 
city following his corpse to the tomb in the church of St. 
Lorenzo, on which, by public decree, he was inscribed, 
" Father of his Country." If, in speaking of Cos- 
mo's actions, I have rather imitated the biographies of 
princes than general history, it need not occasion wonder ; 
for of so extraordinary an individual I was compelled to speak 
with unusual praise. 


The duke of Milan becomes lord of Genoa — The king of Naples and the 
duke of Milan endeavour to secure their dominions to their heirs — Ja- 
copo Piccinino honourably received at Milan, and shortly afterwards 
murdered at Naples— Fruitless endeavours of Pius II. to excite Chris- 
tendom against the Turks— Death of Francesco Sforza, duke of Milan 
— Perfidious counsel given to Piero de' Medici by Diotisalvi Neroni— 
Conspiracy of Diotisalvi and others against Piero — Futile attempts to 
appease the disorders — Public spectacles — Projects of the conspirators 
against Piero de' Medici — Niccolo Fedini discloses to Piero the plots of 
his enemies. 

Whilst Florence and Italy were in this condition, Louis 
XL of France was involved in very serious troubles with 

316 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. vn. en. 2 a.d. 1464. 

his barons, who, with the assistance of Francis duke of Brit- 
tany and Charles duke of Burgundy, were in arms against 
him. This attack was so serious, that he was unable to 
render further assistance to John of Anjou in his enterprise 
against Genoa and Naples ; and, standing in need of all the 
forces he could raise, he gave over Savona (which still re- 
mained in the power of the French) to the duke of Milan, 
and also intimated, that if he wished, he had his permission 
to undertake the conquest of Genoa. Francesco accepted 
the proposal, and with the influence afforded by the king's 
friendship, and the assistance of the Adorni, he became lord 
of Genoa. In acknowledgment of this benefit, he sent fifteen 
hundred horse into France for the king's service, under the 
command of Galeazzo, his eldest son. Thus Ferrando of 
Arragon and Francesco Sforza became, the latter duke of 
Lombardy and prince of Genoa, and the former sovereign of 
the whole kingdom of Naples. Their families being allied 
by marriage, they thought they might so confirm their 
power as to secure to themselves its enjoyment during life, 
and at their deaths, its unencumbered reversion to their 
heirs. To attain this end, they considered it necessary that 
the king should remove all ground of apprehension from those 
barons who had offended him in the war of John of Anjou, 
and that the duke should extirpate the adherents of the 
Bracceschi, the natural enemies of his family, who, under 
Jacopo Piccinino, had attained the highest reputation. The 
latter was now the first general in Italy, and possessing no 
territory, he naturally excited the apprehension of all who 
had dominions, and especially of the duke, who, conscious 
of what he had himself done, thought he could neither enjoy 
his own estate in safety, nor leave them with any degree of 
security to his son during Jacopo's lifetime. The king, 
therefore, strenuously endeavoured to come to terms with his 
barons, and using his utmost ingenuity to secure them, suc- 
ceeded in his object ; for they perceived their ruin to be in- 
evitable if they continued at war with their sovereign, though 
from submission and confidence in him, they would still have 
reason for apprehension. Mankind are always most eager 
to avoid a certain evil ; and hence inferior powers are easily 
deceived by princes. The barons, conscious of the danger of 
continuing the war, trusted the king's promises, and having 

B.vrr. rsi. 2. a.d. 1465. DEATH OF JACOPO AND FRANCESCO. 317 

placed themselves in his hands they were soon after destroyed 
in various ways, and under a variety of pretexts. This 
alarmed Jacopo Piccinino, who was with his forces at Sul- 
mona ; and to deprive the king of the opportunity of treat- 
ing him similarly, he endeavoured, by the mediation of his 
friends, to be reconciled with the duke, who, by the most 
liberal offers, induced Jacopo to visit him at Milan, accompa- 
nied by only a hundred horse. 

Jacopo had served many years with his father and brother, 
first under Duke Filippo, and afterwards under the Milanese re- 
public, so that by frequent intercourse with the citizens he had 
acquired many friends and universal popularity, which present 
circumstances tended to increase ; for the prosperity and 
newly acquired power of the Sforzeschi had occasioned envy, 
whilst Jacopo's misfortunes and long absence had given rise 
to compassion and a great desire to see him. These various 
feelings were displayed upon his arrival ; for nearly all the 
nobility went to meet him ; the streets through which he 
passed were filled with citizens, anxious to catch a glimpse of 
him, while shouts of " The Bracceschi ! the Bracceschi !" 
resounded on all sides. These honours accelerated his ruin ; 
for the duke's apprehensions increased his desire of destroy- 
ing him ; and to effect this with the least possible suspicion, 
Jacopo's marriage with Drusiana, the duke's natural daughter, 
who had been promised to him long before, was now cele- 
brated. The duke then arranged with Ferrando to take him 
into pay, with the title of captain of his forces, and give him 
100,000 florins for his maintenance. After this agreement, 
Jacopo, accompanied by a ducal ambassador and his wife 
Drusiana, proceeded to Naples, where he was honourably 
and joyfully received, and for many days entertained with 
every kind of festivity ; but having asked permission to go to 
Sulmona, %vhere his forces were, the king invited him to a 
banquet in the castle, at the conclusion of which he and his 
son Francesco were imprisoned, and shortly afterwards put 
to death. It was thus our Italian princes, fearing those 
virtues in others which they themselves did not possess, ex- 
tirpated them ; and hence the country became a prey to the 
efforts of those by whom it was not long afterwards oppressed 
and ruined. 

At this time, Pope Pius II. having settled the affairs of 

318 HISTORY OF FLOliENCE. B. vn. ch.2. a.d. 14G5. 

Romagna, and witnessing a universal peace, thought it a 
suitable opportunity to lead the Christians against the Turks, 
and adopted measures similar to those which his predecessors 
had used. All the princes promised assistance either in men 
or money ; whilst Matthias, king of Hungary, and Charles, 
duke of Burgundy, intimated their intention of joining the 
enterprise in person, and were by the pope appointed leaders 
of the expedition. The pontiff was so full of expectation, 
that he left Rome and proceeded to Ancona, where it had 
been arranged that the whole army should be assembled, and 
the Venetians engaged to send ships thither to convey the 
forces to Sclavonia. Upon the arrival of the pope in that 
city, there was soon such a concourse of people, that in a 
few days all the provisions it contained, or that could be pro- 
cured from the neighbourhood, were consumed, and famine 
began to impend. Besides this, there was no money to pro- 
vide those who were in want of it, nor arms to furnish such 
as were without them. Neither Matthias or Charles made 
their appearance. The Venetians sent a captain with some 
galleys, but rather for ostentation and the sake of keeping 
their word, than for the purpose of conveying troops. During 
this position of affairs, the pope, being old and infirm, died, 
and the assembled troops returned to their homes. The 
death of the pontiff occurred in 1465, and Paul II. of Vene- 
tian origin, was chosen to succeed him ; and that nearly all 
the principalities of Italy might change their rulers about 
the same period, in the following year Francesco Sforza, 
duke of Milan, also died, having occupied the dukedom 
sixteen years, and Galeazzo, his son, succeeded him. 

The death of this prince infused redoubled energy into 
the Florentine dissensions, and caused them to produce more 
prompt effects than they would otherwise have done. Upon 
the demise of Cosmo, his son Piero, being heir to the wealth 
and government of his father, called to his assistance Dio- 
tisalvi Neroni, a man of great influence and the highest 
reputation, in whom Cosmo reposed so much confidence that 
just before his death he recommended Piero to be wholly 
guided by him, both with regard to the government of the 
city and the management of his fortune. Piero acquainted 
Diotisalvi with the opinion Cosmo entertained of him, and 
said that as he wished to obey his father, though now no 

B. nr. ch. 2.a.d. 1465. PERFIDY OF DIOTISALVI. 319 

more, as he always had whilst alive, he should consult 
him concerning both his patrimony and the city. Be- 
ginning with his private affairs, he caused an account of 
all his property, liabilities, and assets, to be placed in Dio- 
tisalvi's hands, that, with an entire acquaintance with the 
state of his affairs, he might be able to afford suitable advice ; 
and the latter promised to use the utmost care. Upon exa- 
mination of these accounts the affairs were found to be in 
great disorder, and Diotisalvi, instigated rather by his own 
ambition than by attachment to Piero or gratitude to Cosmo, 
thought he might without difficulty deprive him of both the 
reputation and the splendour which his father had left him 
as his inheritance. In order to realise his views, he waited 
upon Piero, and advised him to adopt a measure which, 
whilst it appeared quite correct in itself, and suitable to ex- 
isting circumstances, involved a consequence destructive 
to his authority. He explained the disorder of his affairs, 
and the large amount of money it would be necessary to 
provide, if he wished to preserve his influence in the state 
and his reputation of wealth ; and said there was no other 
means of remedying these disorders so just and available as 
to call in the sums which his father had lent to an infinite 
number of persons, both foreigners and citizens ; for Cosmo, 
to acquire partisans in Florence and friends abroad, was ex- 
tremely liberal of his money, and the amount of loans due 
to him was enormous. Piero thought the advice good, be- 
cause he was only desirous to repossess his own property to 
meet the demands to which he was liable ; but as soon as he 
had ordered those amounts to be recalled, the citizens, as if 
he had asked for something to which he had no kind of 
claim, took great offence, loaded him with opprobrious ex- 
pressions, and accused him of being avaricious and un- 

Diotisalvi, noticing the popular excitement against Piero, 
occasioned by his own advice, obtained an interview with 
Luca Pitti, Agnolo Acciajuoli, and Niccolo Soderini, and 
they resolved to unite their efforts to deprive him both of 
the government and his influence. Each was actuated 
by a different motive ; Luca Pitti wished to take the position 
Cosmo had occupied, for he was now become so great, 
that he disdained to submit to Piero; Diotisalvi Neroni, 

320 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. ch. 2. a.d. 14C5. 

-who knew Luca unfit to be at the head of a government, 
thought that of necessity on Piero's removal, the whole au- 
thority of the state would devolve upon himself; Niccolo 
Soderini desired the city to enjoy greater liberty, and for the 
laws to be equally binding upon all. Agnolo Acciajuoli was 
greatly incensed against the Medici, for the following reasons : 
his son, Raffaello, had some time before married Alessandra 
de* Bardi, and received with her a large dowry. She, either 
by her own fault or the misconduct of others, suffered much 
ill-treatment both from her father-in-law and her husband, 
and in consequence Lorenzo d' Ilarione, her kinsman, out 
of pity for the girl, being accompanied by several armed 
men, took her away from Agnolo' s house. The Acciajuoli 
complained of the injury done them by the Bardi, and the 
matter was referred to Cosmo, who decided that the Accia- 
juoli should restore to Alessandra her fortune, and then leave 
it to her choice either to return to her husband or not. 
Agnolo thought Cosmo had not, in this instance, treated him 
as a friend ; and having been unable to avenge himself on the 
father, he now resolved to do his utmost to ruin the son. 
These conspirators, although each was influenced by a dif- 
ferent motive from the rest, affected to have only one object 
in view, which was that the city should be governed by the 
magistrates, and not be subjected to the counsels of a few 
individuals. The odium against Piero, and opportunities of 
injuring him, were increased by the number of merchants who 
failed about this time ; for it was reported that he, in having, 
quite unexpectedly to all, resolved to call in his debts, had, 
to the disgrace and ruin of the city, caused them to become 
insolvent. To this was added, his endeavour to obtain 
Clarice degli Orsini as wife of Lorenzo, his eldest son ; and 
hence his enemies took occasion to say, it was quite clear, 
that as he despised a Florentine alliance, he no longer con- 
sidered himself one of the people, and was preparing to 
make himself prince ; for he who refuses his fellow citizens 
as relatives, desires to make them slaves, and therefore 
cannot expect to have them as friends. The leaders of the 
sedition thought they had the victory in their power ; for the 
greater part of the citizens followed them, deceived by the 
name of liberty which they, to give their purpose a graceful 
covering, adopted upon their ensigns. 

B. vn. ch. 2. a.d. 1465. FESTIVALS AT FLORENCE. 321 

In this agitated state of the city, some, to whom civil dis- 
cord was extremely offensive, thought it would be well to 
endeavour to engage men's minds with some new occupation, 
because when unemployed they are commonly led by whoever 
chooses to excite them. To divert their attention from matters 
of government, it being now a year since the death of Cosmo, 
it was resolved to celebrate two festivals, similar to the most 
solemn observed in the city. At one of them was repre- 
sented the arrival of the three kings from the east, led by 
the star which announced the nativity of Christ ; which was 
conducted with such pomp and magnificence, that the prepa- 
rations for it kept the whole city occupied many months. 
The other was a tournament (for so they call the exhibition 
of equestrian combats), in which the sons of the first fami- 
lies in the city took part with the most celebrated cavaliers 
of Italy. Among the most distinguished of the Floren- 
tine youth was Lorenzo, eldest son of Piero, who, not by 
favour, but by his own personal valour, obtained the prin- 
cipal prize. When these festivals were over, the citizens 
reverted to the same thoughts which had previously occupied 
them, and each pursued his ideas with greater earnestness 
than ever. Serious differences and troubles Were the result ; 
and these were greatly increased by two circumstances : one 
of which was, that the authority of the balia had expired ; 
the other, that upon the death of Duke Francesco, Galeazzo 
the new duke sent ambassadors to Florence, to renew the 
engagements of his father with the city, which, among other 
things, provided that every year a certain sum of money 
should be paid to the duke. The principal opponents of the 
Medici took occasion, from this demand, to make public re- 
sistance in the councils, on pretence that the alliance was 
made with Francesco and not with Galeazzo ; so that Fran- 
cesco being dead, the obligation had ceased ; nor was there 
any necessity to revive it, because Galeazzo did not possess 
his father's talents, and consequently they neither could nor 
ought to expect the same benefits from him ; that if they had 
derived little advantage from Francesco, they would obtain 
still less from Galeazzo ; and that if any citizen wished to 
hire him for his own purposes, it was contrary to civil rule, 
and inconsistent with the public liberty. Piero, on the con- 
trary, argued that it would be very impolitic to lose such an 


322 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B.rn. ch. 2. a.d. 14C5. 

alliance from mere avarice, and that there was nothing so im- 
portant to the republic, and to the whole of Italy, as their 
alliance with the duke ; that the Venetians, while they 
were united, could not hope either by feigned friendship or 
open war to injure the duchy; but as soon as they per- 
ceived the Florentines alienated from him they would prepare 
for hostilities, and, finding him young, new in the govern- 
ment, and without friends, they would, either by force or 
fraud, compel him to join them ; in which case the ruin of 
the republic would be inevitable. 

The arguments of Piero were without effect, and the ani- 
mosity of the parties began to be openly manifested in their 
nocturnal assemblies ; the friends of the Medici meeting in 
the Crocetta, and their adversaries in the Pieta. The latter 
being anxious for Piero" s ruin, had induced many citizens to 
subscribe their names as favourable to the undertaking. Upon 
one occasion, particularly when considering the course to be 
adopted, although all agreed that the power of the Medici 
ought to be reduced, different opinions were given concerning 
the means by which it should be effected ; one party, the 
most temperate and reasonable, held that as the authority 
of the balia had ceased, they must take care to prevent its 
renewal ; it would then be found to be the universal wish 
that the magistrates and councils should govern the city, and 
in a short time Piero' s power would be visibly diminished, 
and, as a consequence of his loss of influence in the govern- 
ment, his commercial credit would also fail ; for his affairs 
were in such a state, that if they could prevent him from 
using the public money his ruin must ensue. They would 
thus be in no further danger from him, and would succeed in 
the recovery of their liberty, without the death or exile of 
any individual ; but if they attempted violence they would 
incur great dangers : for mankind are willing to allow one 
who falls of himself to meet his fate, but if pushed down they 
would hasten to his relief ; so that if they adopted no extra- 
ordinary measures against him, he will have no reason for 
defence or aid ; and if he were to seek them it would be 
greatly to his own injury, by creating such a general sus- 
picion as would accelerate his ruin, and justify whatever 
course they might think proper to adopt. Many of the 
assembly were dissatisfied with this tardy method of pro 

B.m. ch. 3. a.d. 1465. PLOT* AGAINST PIERO. 323 

ceeding ; they thought delay would be favourable to him and 
injurious to themselves ; for if they allowed matters to take 
their ordinary course, Piero would be in no danger whatever, 
whilst they themselves would incur many; for the magis- 
trates who were opposed to him would allow him to rule 
the city, and his friends would make him a prince, and their 
own ruin would be inevitable, as happened in 1458 ; and 
though the advice they had just heard might be most con- 
sistent with good feeling, the present would be found to be 
the safest. That it would therefore be best, whilst the minds 
of men were yet excited against him, to effect his destruc- 
tion. It must be their plan to arm themselves, and engage 
the assistance of the marquis of Ferrara, that they might not 
be destitute of troops ; and if a favourable Signory were 
drawn, they would be in condition to make use of them. 
They therefore determined to wait the formation of the new 
Signory, and be governed by circumstances. 

Among the conspirators was Niccolo Fedini, who had 
acted as president of their assemblies. He, being induced 
by most certain hopes, disclosed the whole affair to Piero. 
and gave him a list of those who had subscribed then- 
names, and also of the conspirators. Piero was alarmed on 
discovering the number and quality of those who were op- 
posed to him ; and by the advice of his friends he resolved 
to take the signatures of those who were inclined to fav- 
our him. Having employed one of his most trusty confi- 
dants to carry this design into effect, he found so great a 
disposition to change and instability, that many who had 
previously set down their names among the number of his 
enemies, now subscribed them in his favour. 


Niccolo Soderini drawn Gonfalonier of Justice — Great hopes excited in 
eonscquence — The two parties take arms — The fears of the Signory — 
Their conduct with regard to Piero — Piero's reply to the Signory — 
Reform of government in favour of Piero de' Medici — Dispersion of 
his enemies — Fall of Luca Pitti — Letter of Agnolo Acciajuoli to Piero 
de' Medici — Piero's answer — Designs of the Florentine exiles — They 
induce the Venetians to make war on Florence. 
In the midst of these events, the time arrived for the re- 
newal of the supreme magistracy; and Niccolo Soderuv 

Y 2 

324 HISTORY Of FLORENCE. ch.3.a.d. 146& 

was drawn Gonfalonier of Justice. It was surprising to see 
by what a concourse, not only of distinguished citizens, but 
also of the populace, he was accompanied to the palace ; and 
while on the way thither an olive wreath was placed upon his 
head, to signify that upon him depended the safety and 
liberty of the city. This, among many similar instances, 
serves to prove how undesirable it is to enter upon office or 
power exciting inordinate expectations ; for, being unable to 
fulfil them (many looking for more than it is possible to 
perform), shame and disappointment are the ordinary results. 
Tommaso and Niccolo Soderini were brothers. Niccolo was 
the more ardent and spirited, Tommaso the wiser man ; who, 
being very much the friend of Piero, and knowing that his 
brother desired nothing but the liberty of the city, and the 
stability of the republic, without injury to any, advised him 
to make new Squittini, by which means the election purses 
might be filled with the names of those favourable to his 
design. Niccolo took his brother's advice, and thus wasted 
the period of his magistracy in vain hopes, which his friends, 
the leading conspirators, allowed him to do from motives of 
envy ; for they were unwilling that the government should 
be reformed by the authority of Niccolo, and thought they 
would be in time enough to effect their purpose under another 
gonfalonier. Thus the magistracy of Niccolo expired ; and 
having commenced many things without completing aught, 
he retired from office with much less credit than he had en- 
tered upon it. 

This circumstance caused the aggrandisement of Piero's 
party, whose friends entertained stronger hopes, while those 
who had been neutral or wavering became his adherents ; 
so that both sides being balanced, many months elapsed 
without any open demonstration of their particular designs. 
Piero's party continuing to gather strength, his enemies' 
indignation increased in proportion ; and they now de- 
termined to effect by force what they either could not ac- 
complish, or were unwilling to attempt by the medium 
of the magistrates, which was the assassination of Piero, 
who lay sick at Careggi, and to this end order the mar- 
quis of Ferrara nearer to the city with his forces, 
that after Piero's death he might lead them into the 
piazza, and thus compel the Signory to form a government 

B. 14G(5. PIERO TAKES ARMS. 325 

according to their own wishes ; for though all might not be 
friendly, they trusted they would be able to induce those 
to submit by fear who might be opposed to them from 

Diotisalvi, the better to conceal his design, frequently visited 
Piero, conversed with him respecting the union of the city, 
and advised him to effect it. The conspirators' designs had 
already been fully disclosed to Piero ; besides this, Dome- 
nico Martelli had informed him, that Francesco Neroni, the 
brother of Diotisalvi, had endeavoured to induce him to join 
them, assuring him the victory was certain, and their object 
all but attained. Upon this, Piero resolved to take advan- 
tage of his enemies' tampering with the marquis of Ferrara, 
and be first in arms. He therefore intimated that he had 
received a letter from Giovanni Bentivogli, prince of Bologna, 
which informed him that the marquis of Ferrara was upon 
the river Albo, at the head of a considerable force, with the 
avowed intention of leading it to Florence ; that upon this 
advice he had taken up arms ; after which, in the midst of a 
strong force, he came to the city, when all who were dis- 
posed to support him, armed themselves also. The adverse 
party did the same, but not in such good order, being unpre- 
pared. The residence of Diotisalvi being near that of Piero, 
he did not think himself safe in it, but first went to the 
palace and begged the Signory would endeavour to induce 
Piero to lay down his arms, and thence to Luca Pitti, to keep 
him faithful in their cause. Niccolo Soderini displayed the 
most activity ; for taking arms, and being followed by nearly 
all the plebeians in his vicinity, he proceeded to the house of 
Luca, and begged that he would mount his horse, and come 
to the piazza in support of the Signory, who were, he said, 
favourable, and that the victory would, undoubtedly, be on 
their side ; that he should not stay in the house to be basely 
slain by their armed enemies, or ignominiously deceived by 
those who were unarmed ; for, in that case, he would soon 
repent of having neglected an opportunity irrecoverably lost ; 
that if he desired the forcible ruin of Piero, he might easily 
effect it ; and that if he were anxious for peace, it would be 
far better to be in a condition to propose terms than to be 
compelled to accept any that might be offered. These words 
produced no effect upon Luca, whose mind was now quite 

326 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. fit ch. 3. a.d. 1466- 

made up ; he had been induced to desert his party by new 
conditions and promises of alliance from Pierc ; for one of 
his nieces had been married to Giovanni Tornabuoni. He, 
therefore, advised Niccolo to dismiss his followers and return 
home, telling him he ought to be satisfied, if the city were 
governed by the magistrates, which would certainly be the 
case, and that all ought to lay aside their weapons ; for the 
Signory, most of whom were friendly, would decide their 
differences. Niccolo, finding him impracticable, returned 
home ; but before he left, he said, " I can do the city no 
good alone, but I can easily foresee the. evils that will befall 
her. This resolution of yours will rob our country of her 
liberty ; you will lose the government, I shall lose my pro- 
perty, and the rest will be exiled." 

During this disturbance, the Signory closed the palace, and 
kept their magistrates about them, without showing favour 
to either party. The citizens, especially those who had fol- 
lowed Lucca Pitti, finding Piero fully prepared and his ad- 
versaries unarmed, began to consider, not how they might 
injure him, but how, with least observation, glide into the 
ranks of his friends. The principal citizens, the leaders 
of both factions, assembled in the palace in the presence of 
the Signory, and spoke respecting the state of the city and 
the reconciliation of parties ; and as the infirmities of Piero 
prevented him from being present, they, with one exception, 
unanimously determined to wait upon him at his house. 
Niccolo Soderini having first placed his children and his 
effects under the care of his brother Tommaso, withdrew 
to his villa, there to await the event, but apprehended 
misfortune to himself and ruin to his country. The other 
citizens coming into Piero's presence, one of them who had 
been appointed spokesman, complained of the disturbances 
that had arisen in the city, and endeavoured to show, that 
those must be most to blame who had been first to take up 
arms ; and not knowing what Piero (who was evidently the 
first to do so) intended, they had come in order to be informed 
of his design, and if it had in view the welfare of the city, 
they were desirous of supporting it. Piero replied, that not 
those who first take arms are the most to blame, but those 
who give the first occasion for it, and if they would reflect a 
little on their mode of proceeding towards himself, they 

B. vn. ch. 3. a.d. 1466. REFORM OP GOTEBNMENT. 327 

would cease to wonder at what he had done ; for they could 
not fail to perceive, that nocturnal assemblies, the enrolment 
of partisans, and attempts to deprive him both of his autho- 
rity and his life, had caused him to take arms ; and they 
might further observe, that as his forces had not quitted his 
own house, his design was evidently only to defend himself 
and not to injure others. He neither sought nor desired 
anything but safety and repose ; neither had his conduct 
ever manifested a desire for aught else ; for when the autho- 
rity of the Balia expired, he never made any attempt to re- 
new it, and was very glad the magistrates had governed the 
city and been content. They might also remember, that 
Cosmo and his sons could live respected in Florence, either 
with the Balia or without it, and that in 1458, it was not his 
family, but themselves, who had renewed it. That if they 
did not wish for it at present, neither did he ; but this did 
not satisfy them ; for he perceived they thought it impossi- 
ble to remain in Florence while he was there. It was entirely 
beyond all his anticipations that his own or his father's 
friends should think themselves unsafe with him in Flo- 
rence, having always shown himself quiet and peaceable. 
He then addressed himself to Diotisalvi and his brothers, 
who were present, reminding them with grave indigna- 
tion, of the benefits they had received from Cosmo, the 
confidence he had reposed in them and their subsequent 
ingratitude ; and his words so strongly excited some pre- 
sent, that had he not interfered, they would certainly have 
torn the Neroni to pieces on the spot. He concluded by saying, 
that he should approve of any determination of themselves 
and the Signory ; and that for his own part, he only desired 
peace and safety. After this, many things were discussed, 
but nothing determined, excepting generally, that it was neces- 
sary to reform the administration of the city and government. 
The Gonfalon of Justice was then in the hands of Ber- 
nardo Lotti, a man not in the confidence of Piero, who was 
therefore disinclined to attempt aught whilst he was in office ; 
but no inconvenience would result from the delay, as his ma- 
gistracy was on the point of expiring. Upon the election of 
Signors for the months of September and October, 1466, 
Roberto Lioni was appointed to the supreme magistracy, and 

328 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. vii. ch. 3. a.d. 1466. 

as soon as he assumed its duties, every requisite arrange- 
ment having been previously made, the people were called to 
the piazza, and a new Balia created, wholly in favour of 
Piero, who soon afterwards filled all the offices of govern- 
ment according to his own pleasure. These transactions 
alarmed the leaders of the opposite faction, and Agnolo Ac- 
ciajuoli fled to Naples, Diotisalvi Neroni and Niccolo Sode- 
rini to Venice. Luca Pitti remained in Florence, trusting to 
his new relationship and the promises of Piero. The refu- 
gees were declared rebels, and all the family of the Neroni 
were dispersed. Giovanni di Neroni, then archbishop of 
Florence, to avoid a greater evil, became a voluntary exile at 
Rome ; and to many other citizens who fled, various places 
of banishment were appointed. Nor was this considered 
sufficient ; for it was ordered that the citizens should go in 
solemn procession to thank God for the preservation of the 
government and the re-union of the city, during the perform 
ance of which, some were taken and tortured, and part oi 
them afterwards put to death and exiled. In this great 
vicissitude of affairs, there was not a more remarkable in- 
stance of the uncertainty of fortune than Luca Pitti, who 
soon found the difference between victory and defeat, honour 
and disgrace. His house now presented only a vast solitude, 
where previously crowds of citizens had assembled. In the 
streets, his friends and relatives, instead of accompanying, 
were afraid even to salute him. Some of them were deprived 
of the honours of government, others of their property, and 
all alike threatened. The superb edifices he had commenced 
were abandoned by the builders ; the benefits that had been 
conferred upon him, were now exchanged for injuries, the 
honours for disgrace. Hence many of those who had pre- 
sented him with articles of value now demanded them back 
again, as being only lent ; and those who had been in the 
habit of extolling him as a man of surpassing excellence, 
now termed him violent and ungrateful. So that, when too 
late, he regretted not having taken the advice of Niccolo 
Soderini, and preferred an honourable death in battle, than 
to a life of ignominy amongst his victorious enemies. 

The exiles now began to consider various means of re- 
covering that citizenship which they had not been able to 

B. vii. ch. 3. a.d. 1468. AGNOLO'S LETTEH. 329 

preserve. However, Agnolo Acciajuoli being at Naples, 
before he attempted anything else, resolved to sound Piero, 
and try if he could effect a reconciliation. For this pur- 
pose, he wrote to him in the following terms : — " I cannot 
help laughing at the freaks of fortune, perceiving how, at 
her pleasure, she converts friends into enemies, and ene- 
mies into friends. You may remember that during your 
father's exile, regarding more the injury done to him than 
my own misfortunes, I was banished, and in danger of 
death, and never during Cosmo's life failed to honour and 
support your family; neither have I since his death ever 
entertained a wish to injure you. True, it is, that your own 
sickness, and the tender years of your sons, so alarmed me, 
that I judged it desirable to give such a form to the govern- 
ment, that after your death our country might not be ruined ; 
and hence, the proceedings, which not against you, but for 
the safety of the state, have been adopted, which, if mis- 
taken, will surely obtain forgiveness, both for the good de- 
sign in view, and on account of my former services. Neither 
can I apprehend, that your house, having found me so 
long faithful, should now prove unmerciful, or that you 
could cancel the impression of so much merit for so small a 
fault." Piero replied : — " Your laughing in your present 
abode is the cause why I do not weep, for were you to laugh 
in Florence, I should have to weep at Naples. I confess 
you were well disposed towards my father, and you ought to 
confess you were well paid for it ; and the obligation is so 
much the greater on your part than on ours, as deeds are of 
greater value than words. Having been recompensed for your 
good wishes, it ought not to surprise you that you now receive 
the due reward of your bad ones. Neither will a pretence 
of your patriotism excuse you, for none will think the city 
less beloved or benefited by the Medici, than by the Acci- 
ajuoli. It, therefore, seems but just, that you should remain 
in dishonour at Naples, since you knew not how to live with 
honour at home." 

Agnolo, hopeless of obtaining pardon, went to Rome, 
where, joining the archbishop and other refugees, they used 
every available means to injure the commercial credit of the 
Medici in that city. Their attempts greatly annoyed Piero ; 
but by Ids friends' assistance, he was enabled to render them 

330 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. vn. ch. 3. a.d. 145>5. 

abortive. Diotisalvi Neroni and Niccolo Soderini strenu- 
ously urged the Venetian senate to make war upon their 
country, calculating, that in case of an attack, the govern- 
ment being new and unpopular, would be unable to resist. 
At this time there resided at Ferrara, Giovanni Francesco, 
son of Palla Strozzi, who, with his father, was banished from 
Florence in the changes of 1434. He possessed great influ- 
ence, and was considered one of the richest merchants. The 
newly banished pointed out to Giovanni Francesco how easily 
they might return to their country, if the Venetians were to 
undertake the enterprise, and that it was most probable they 
would do so, if they had pecuniary assistance, but that other- 
wise it would be doubtful. Giovanni Francesco, wishing to 
avenge his own injuries, at once fell in with their ideas, and 
promised to contribute to the success of the attempt all the 
means in his power. On this they went to the Doge, and 
complained of the exile they were compelled to endure, for 
no other reason, they said, than for having wished their coun- 
try should be subject to equal laws, and that the magistrates 
should govern, not a few private individuals ; that Piero de' 
Medici with his adherents, who were accustomed to act 
tyrannically, had secretly taken up arms, deceitfully induced 
them to lay their own aside, and thus, by fraud, expelled 
them from their country ; that, not content with this, they 
made the Almighty himself a means of , oppression to 
several, who, trusting to their promises, had remained in 
the city and were there betrayed ; for, during public wor- 
ship and solemn supplications, that the Deity might seem 
to participate in their treachery, many citizens had been 
seized, imprisoned, tortured, and put to death ; thus afford- 
ing to the world a horrible and impious precedent. To 
avenge themselves for these injuries, they knew not where 
to turn with so much hope of success as to the senate, which, 
having always enjoyed their liberty, ought to compassionate 
those who had lost it. They therefore called upon them as 
free men to assist them against tyrants ; as pious, against the 
wicked ; and would remind the Venetians, that it was the 
family of the Medici who had robbed them of their domi- 
nions in Lombardy, contrary to the wish of the other citizens, 
and who, in opposition to the interests of the senate, had 
favoured and supported Francesco, so, that if the exiles' dis- a.d. 1467. WAR RENEWED. 331 

tresses could not induce them to undertake the war, the just 
indignation of the people of Venice, and their desire of venge- 
ance ought to prevail. J 


War between the Venetians and the Florentines — Peace re-established — 
Death of Niccolo Soderini — His character — Excesses in Florence — 
Various external events from 1468 to 1471 — Accession of SixtusIV. — 
His character — Grief of Piero de' Medici for the violence committed in 
Florence — His speech to the principal citizens — Plans of Piero de' 
Medici for the restoration of order — His death and character — Tommaso 
Soderini, a citizen of great reputation, declares himself in favour of the 
Medici — Disturbances at Prato occasioned by Bernardo Nardi. 

The concluding words of the Florentine exiles produced the 
utmost excitement among the Venetian senators, and they re- 
solved to send Bernardo Coglione, their general, to attack 
the Florentine territory. The troops were assembled,, and 
joined by Ercole da Esti, who had been sent by Borgo, 
marquis of Ferrara. At the commencement of hostili- 
ties, the Florentines not being prepared, their enemies 
burnt the Borgo of Dovadola, and plundered the surrounding 
country. But having expelled the enemies of Piero, re- 
newed their league with Galeazzo, duke of Milan, and 
Ferrando, king of Naples, they appointed to the command 
of their forces Federigo, count of Urbino ; and being thus 
on good terms with their friends, their enemies occasioned 
them less anxiety. Ferrando sent Alfonso, his eldest son, to 
their aid, and Galeazzo came in person, each at the head of a 
suitable force, and all assembled at Castrocaro, a fortress 
belonging to the Florentines, and situated among the roots 
of the Appennines which descend from Tuscany to Ro- 
magna. In the meantime, the enemy withdrew towards 
Imola. A few slight skirmishes took place between the 
armies ; yet, in accordance with the custom of the times, 
neither of them acted on the offensive, besieged any town, 
or gave the other an opportunity of coming to a general 
engagement ; but each kept within their tents, and conducted 
themselves w'.th most remarkable cowardice. This occa- 

832 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. vu. oh. 4. a.d. 1407. 

sioned general dissatisfaction among the Florentines; for 
they found themselves involved in an expensive war, from 
which no advantage could be derived. The magistrates com- 
plained of these spiritless proceedings to those who had been 
appointed commissaries to the expedition ; but they replied, 
that the entire evil was chargeable upon the Duke Galeazzo, 
who, possessing great authority and little experience, was 
unable to suggest useful measures, and unwilling to take the 
advice of those who were more capable ; and therefore any 
demonstration of courage or energy would be impracticable 
so long as he remained with the army. Hereupon the Flo- 
rentines intimated to the duke, that his presence with the 
forces was in many ways advantageous and beneficial, and of 
itself sufficient to alarm the enemy ; but they considered his 
his own safety, and that of his dominions, much more im- 
portant than their own immediate convenience ; because so 
long as the former were safe the Florentines had nothing 
to fear, and all would go well ; but if his dominions were to 
suffer, they might then apprehend all kinds of misfortune 
They assured him they did not think it prudent for him to be 
absent so long from Milan, having recently succeeded to the 
government, and being surrounded by many powerful enemies 
and suspected neighbours ; while any who were desirous of 
plotting against him, had an opportunity of doing so with 
impunity. They would, therefore, advise him to return to 
his territories, leaving part of his troops with them for the 
use of the expedition. This advice pleased Galeazzo, who, 
in consequence, immediately withdrew to Milan. The Flo- 
rentine generals being now left without any hindrance, to 
show that the cause assigned for their inaction was the true 
one, pressed the enemy more closely, so that they came to a 
regular engagement, which continued half a day, without 
either party yielding. Some horses were wounded, and 
prisoners taken, but no death occurred. Winter having 
arrived, and with it the usual time for armies to retire into 
quarters, Bartolommeo Coglione withdrew to Ravenna, the 
Florentine forces into Tuscany, and those of the king and 
duke, each to the territories of their sovereign. As this 
attempt had not occasioned any tumult in Florence, contrary 
to the rebels' expectation, and the troops they had hired were 
in want of pay, terms of peace were proposed, and easily 

B. vir. c-h. 4. a a 1468. PEACE REST0EED. 333 

arranged. The revolted Florentines, thus deprived of hope, 
dispersed themselves in various places. Diotisalvi Neroni 
withdrew to Ferrara, where he was received and entertained 
by the Marquis Borso. Niccolo Soderini went to Ravenna, 
where, upon a small pension allowed him by the Venetians, 
he grew old and died. He was considered a just and brave 
man, but over cautious and slow to determine, a circumstance 
which occasioned him, when Gonfalonier of Justice, to lose 
the opportunity of victory which he would have gladly reco- 
vered when too late. 

Upon the restoration of peace, those who remained vic- 
torious in Florence, as if unable to convince themselves they 
had conquered, unless they oppressed not merely their ene- 
mies, but all whom they suspected, prevailed upon Bardo 
Altoviti, then Gonfalonier of Justice, to deprive many of 
the honours of government, and to banish several more. 
They exercised their power so inconsiderately, and conducted 
themselves in such an arbitrary manner, that it seemed as 
if fortune and the Almighty had given the city up to them 
for a prey. Piero knew little of these things, and was un- 
able to remedy even the little he knew, on account of his in- 
firmities ; his body being so contracted that he could use no 
faculty but that of speech. All he could do was to ad- 
monish the leading men, and beg they would conduct them- 
selves with greater moderation, and not by their violence 
effect their country's ruin. In order to divert the city, he 
resolved to celebrate the marriage of his son Lorenzo with 
Clarice degli Orsini, with great splendour ; and it was accord- 
ingly solemnized with all the display suitable to the exalted 
rank of the parties. Feasts, dancing, and antique represent- 
ations occupied many days ; at the conclusion of which, to 
exhibit the grandeur of the house of Medici and of the go- 
vernment, two military spectacles were presented, one per- 
formed by men on horseback, who went through the evolutions 
of a field engagement, and the other representing the storm- 
ing of a town ; everything being conducted with admirable 
order and the greatest imaginable brilliancy. 

During these transactions in Florence, the rest of Italy, 
though at peace, was filled with apprehension of the power of 
the Turks, who continued to attack the Christians, and had 
taken Negropont, to the great disgrace and injury of the 

334 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. en. 4. a.d. 1468. 

Christian name. About this time died Borso, marquis of 
Ferrara, who was succeeded by his brother Ercole. Gis- 
mondo da Rimini, the inveterate enemy of the church also 
expired, and his natural brother Roberto, who was afterwards 
one of the best generals of Italy, succeeded him. Pope 
Paul died, and was succeeded by Sixtus IV. previously 
called Francesco da Savona, a man of the very lowest origin, 
who by his talents had become general of the order of St. 
Francis, and afterwards cardinal. He was the first who began 
to show how far a pope might go, and how much that which 
was previously regarded as sinful lost its iniquity when com- 
mitted by a pontiff. Among others of his family were Piero 
and Girolamo, who, according to universal belief, were his 
sons, though he designated them by terms reflecting less 
scandal on his character. Piero being a priest, was ad- 
vanced to the dignity of cardinal, with the title of St. Sixtus. 
To Girolamo he gave the city of Furli, taken from Antonio 
Ordelaffi, whose ancestors had held that territory for many 
generations. This ambitious method of procedure made him 
more regarded by the princes of Italy, and all sought to 
obtain his friendship. The duke of Milan gave his natural 
daughter Caterina to Girolamo, with the city of Imola, which 
he had taken from Taddeo degli Alidossi, as her portion. 
New matrimonial alliances were formed between the duke 
and king Ferrando ; Elisabetta, daughter of Alfonso, the 
king's eldest son, being united to Giovan-Galeazzo, the eldest 
son of the duke. 

Italy being at peace, the principal employment of her 
princes was to watch each other, and strengthen their own 
influence by new alliances, leagues, or friendships. But 
in the midst of this repose, Florence endured great op- 
pression from her principal citizens, and the infirmities of 
Piero incapacitated him from restraining their ambition. 
However, to relieve his conscience, and, if possible, to make 
them ashamed of their conduct, he sent for them to his 
house, and addressed them in the following words : — " 1 
never thought a time would come when the behaviour of my 
friends would compel me to esteem and desire the society of 
my enemies, and wish that I had been defeated rather than 
victorious ; for I believed myself to be associated with those 
who would set some bounds to their avarice, and who, after 

B vn. ch.4. a.d. 14CS. DEATH OF PIERO. 335 

having avenged themselves on their enemies, and lived in 
their country with security and honour, would be satisfied. 
But now I find myself greatly deceived, unacquainted with 
the ambition of mankind, and least of all with yours ; for, 
not satisfied with being masters of so great a city, and pos- 
g amongst yourselves those honours, dignities, and 
emoluments which used to be divided among many citizens ; 
not contented with having shared among a few the property 
of your enemies, or with being able to oppress all others 
with public burdens, while you yourselves are exempt from 
them, and enjoy all the public offices of profit, you must still 
further load every one with ill usage. You plunder your 
neighbours of their wealth ; you sell justice ; you evade the 
law ; you oppress the timid and exalt the insolent. Nor is 
there, throughout all Italy, so many and such shocking ex- 
amples of violence and avarice as in this city. Has our 
country fostered us only to be her destroyer ? Have we been 
victorious only to effect her ruin ? Has she honoured us that 
we may overwhelm her with disgrace ? Now, by that faith 
which is binding upon all good men, I promise you, that if 
you still conduct yourselves so as to make me regret my 
victory, I will adopt such measures as shall cause you bitterly 
to repent of having misused it." The reply of the citizens 
accorded with the time and circumstances, but they did not 
forego their evil practices ; so that, in consequence, Piero 
sent for Agnolo Acciajuoli to come secretly to Cafaggiolo, 
and discussed with him at great length the condition of the 
city ; and doubtless, had he not been prevented by death, he 
would have called home the exiles as a check upon the rapine 
of the opposite party. But these honourable designs were 
frustrated ; for, sinking under bodily infirmities and mental 
anguish, he expired in the fifty-third year of his age. His 
goodness and virtue were not duly appreciated by his country, 
principally from his having, until almost the close of his life, 
been associated with Cosmo, and the few years he survived 
being spent in civil discord and constant debility. Piero was 
buried in the church of St. Lorenzo, near his father, and his 
obsequies were performed with all the pomp and solemnity 
due to his exalted station. He left two sons, Lorenzo and 
Giuliano, whose extreme youth excited alarm in the minds of 
thinking men, though each gave hopes of future usefulness 
to the republic. 

336 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. vii. ch. 4. ad. 14G9 

Among the principal citizens in the government of Flo- 
rence, and very superior to the rest, was Tommaso Soderini, 
whose prudence and authority were well known not only 
at home, but throughout Italy. After Piero's death, the 
whole city looked up to him ; many citizens waited upon 
him at his own house, as the head of the government, and 
several princes addressed him by letter; but he, impar- 
tially estimating his own fortune and that of the house of 
Medici, made no reply to the princes' communications, and 
told the citizens, it was not his house but that of the Me- 
dici they ought to visit. To demonstrate by his actions 
the sincerity and integrity of his advice, he assembled all 
the heads of noble families in the convent of St. Antonio, 
whither he also brought Lorenzo and Giuliano de' Medici, 
and in a long and serious speech upon the state of the city, 
the condition of Italy, and the views of her princes, he as- 
sured them, that that if they wished to live in peace and 
unity in Florence, free both from internal dissensions and 
foreign wars, it would be necessary to respect the sons of 
Piero and support the reputation of their house ; for men 
never regret their continuance in a course sanctioned by 
custom, whilst new methods are soon adopted and as speedily 
set aside ; and it has always been found easier to maintain a 
jiower which by its continuance has outlived envy, than to 
raise a new one, which innumerable unforeseen causes may 
overthrow. When Tommaso had concluded, Lorenzo spoke, 
and, though young, with such modesty and discretion that 
all present felt a presentiment of his becoming what he af- 
terwards proved to be ; and before the citizens departed they 
swore to regard the youths as their sons, and the brothers 
promised to look upon them as their parents. After this, 
Lorenzo and Giuliano were honoured as princes, and resolved 
to be guided by the advice of Tommaso Soderini. 

"While profound tranquillity prevailed both at home and 
abroad, no wars disturbing the general repose, there arose an 
unexpected disturbance, which came like a presage of future 
evils. Among the ruined families of the party of Luca 
Pitti, was that of the Nardi ; for Salvestro and his brothers, 
the heads of the house, were banished and afterwards de- 
clared rebels for having taken part in the war under Barto- 
lommeo Coglione. Bernardo, the brother of Salvestro, 
was young, prompt, and bold, and on account of his poverty, 

b. vir. ch. 4. a.d. 1469. Bernardo's disaffection. 337 

being unable to alleviate the sorrows of exile, while the peace 
extinguished all hopes of his return to the city, he determined 
to attempt some means of re-kindling the war ; for a trifling 
commencement often produces great results, and men more 
readily prosecute what is already begun than originate new 
enterprises. Bernardo had many acquaintances at Prato, 
and still more in the district of Pistoia, particularly among 
the Palandra, a family which, though rustic, was very nu- 
merous, and, like the rest of the Pistolesi, brought up to 
slaughter and war. These he knew to be discontented, on 
account of the Florentine magistrates having endeavoured, 
perhaps too severely, to check their partiality for inveterate 
feuds and consequent bloodshed. He was also aware that 
the people of Prato considered themselves injured by the 
pride and avarice of their governors, and that some were ill- 
disposed towards Florence ; therefore all things considered, 
he hoped to be able to kindle a fire in Tuscany (should Prato 
rebel) which would be fostered by so many, that those who 
might wish to extinguish it would fail in the attempt. He 
communicated his ideas to Diotisalvi Neroni, and asked him, 
in case they should succeed in taking possession of Prato, 
what assistance might be expected from the princes of Italy, 
by his means ? Diotisalvi considered the enterprise as im- 
minently dangerous, and almost impracticable ; but since it 
presented a fresh chance of attaining his object, at the risk 
of others, he advised him to proceed, and promised certain 
assistance from Bologna and Ferrara, if he could retain Prato 
not less than fifteen days. Bernardo, whom this promise 
inspired with a lively hope of success, proceeded secretly to 
Prato, and communicated with those most disposed to favour 
him, among whom were the Palandra ; and having arranged 
the time and plan, informed Diotisalvi of what had been 

33S HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. vn. ch. 5. a.d. 1471. 


Bernardo takes possession of Prato, but is not assisted by the inhabitants — 
He is taken, and the tumult appeased — Corruption of Florence — The 
duke of Milan in Florence — The church of Santo Spirito destroyed by 
fire — The rebellion of Volterra, and the cause of it — Volterra reduced 
to obedience by force, in accordance with the advice of Lorenzo de' Me- 
dici — Volterra pillaged. 

Cesare Petrucci held the office of Provost of Prato for the 
Florentine people, at this period. It is customary with gover- 
nors of towns, similarly situated, to keep the keys of the 
gates near their persons ; and whenever, in peaceful times, 
they are required by any of the inhabitants, for entrance or 
exit, they are usually allowed to be taken. Bernardo was 
aware of this custom, and about daybreak, presented him- 
self at the gate which looks towards Pistoia, accompanied 
by the Palandra and about one hundred persons, all armed. 
Their confederates within the town also armed themselves, and 
one of them asked the governor for the keys, alleging, as a 
pretext, that some one from the country wished to enter. 
The governor not entertaining the slightest suspicion, sent 
a servant with them. When at a convenient distance, 
they were taken by the conspirators, who, opening the 
gates, introduced Bernardo and his followers. They divided 
themselves into two parties, one of which, led by Salvestro, 
an inhabitant of Prato, took possession of the citadel ; the 
other following Bernardo, seized the palace, and placed Ce- 
sare with all his family in the custody of some of their num- 
ber. They then raised the cry of liberty, and proceeded 
through the town. It was now day, and many of the inha- 
bitants hearing the disturbance, ran to the piazza where, 
learning that the fortress and the palace were taken and 
the governor with all his people made prisoners, they 
were utterly astonished, and could not imagine how it 
had occurred. The eight citizens, possessing the supreme 
authority, assembled in their palace to consider what was 
best to be done. In the meantime, Bernardo and his fol- 

B vii. en. 5 A.r.. 1471. BERNARDO ENTERS PRATO. 330 

lowers, on going round the town, found no encouragement, 
and being told that the Eight had assembled, went and 
declared the nature of their enterprise, which he said was to 
deliver the country from slavery, reminding them how 
glorious it would be for those who took arms to effect such 
an honourable object, for they would thus obtain perma- 
nent repose and everlasting fame. He called to recollection 
their ancient liberty and present condition, and assured 
them of certain assistance, if they would only, for a few 
days, aid in resisting the forces the Florentines might send 
against them. He said he had friends in Florence who 
would join them as soon as they found the inhabitants re- 
solved to support him. His speech did not produce the 
desired effect upon the Eight, who replied that they knew 
not whether Florence was free or enslaved, for that was 
a matter which they were not called upon to decide ; but this 
they knew very well, that for their own part, they desired 
no other liberty than to obey the magistrates who governed 
Florence, from whom they had never received any injury 
sufficient to make them desire a change. They therefore 
advised him to set the governor at liberty, clear the place of 
his people, and, as quickly as possible, withdraw from the 
danger he had so rashly incurred. Bernardo was not 
daunted by these words, but determined to try whether fear 
could influence the people of Prato since entreaties produced 
so little effect. In order to terrify them, he determined to 
put Cesare to death, and having brought him out of prison, 
ordered him to be hanged at the windows of the palace. 
He was already led to the spot with a halter around his neck, 
when seeing Bernardo giving directions to hasten his end, 
he turned to him, and said, " Bernardo, you put me to death, 
thinking that the people of Prato will follow you ; but the 
direct contrary will result ; for the respect they have for the 
rectors which the Florentine people send here is so great, 
that as soon as they witness the injury inflicted upon me, 
they will conceive such a disgust against you, as will inevi- 
tably effect your ruin. Therefore, it is not by my death, but 
by the preservation of my life, that you can attain the object 
you have in view ; for if I deliver your commands, they will 
be much more readily obeyed, and following your directions, 
we shall soon attain the completion of your design." Ber- 

z 2 

340 HISTORY OF FLOKENCE. B.vir. ch. 5. a.d. 1471. 

nardo, whose mind was not fertile in expedients, thought the 
advice good, and commanded Cesare, on being conducted to 
a veranda which looked upon the piazza, to order the people 
of Prato to obey him, and having done which, Cesare was 
led back to prison. 

The weakness of the conspirators was obvious ; and 
many Florentines residing in the town, assembled together, 
amongst whom, Giorgio Ginori, a knight of Rhodes, took 
arms first against them, and attacked Bernardo, who tra- 
versed the piazza, alternately entreating and threatening 
those who refused to obey him, and being surrounded by 
Giorgio's followers, he was wounded and made prisoner. 
This being done, it was easy to set the governor at liberty 
and subdue the rest, who being few, and divided into several 
parties, were nearly all either secured or slain. An exagger- 
ated report of these transactions reached Florence, it being 
told there that Prato was taken, the governor and his friends 
put to death, and the place filled with the enemy ; and that 
Pistoia was also in arms, and most of the citizens in the con- 
spiracy. In consequence of this alarming account, the 
palace was quickly filled with citizens, who consulted with 
the Signory what course ought to be adopted. At this time, 
Roberto da San Severino, one of the most distinguished 
generals of this period, was at Florence, and it was there- 
fore determined to send him, with what forces could be col- 
lected, to Prato, with orders, that he should approach the 
place, particularly observe what was going on, and provide 
such remedies as the necessity of the case and his own pru- 
dence should suggest. Roberto had scarcely passed the for- 
tress of Campi, when he was met by a messenger from the 
governor, who informed him that Bernardo was taken, his fol- 
lowers either dispersed or slain, and everything restored to 
order. He consequently returned to Florence, whither Ber- 
nardo was shortly after conveyed, and when questioned by 
the magistracy concerning the real motives of such a weak 
conspiracy, he said, he had undertaken it, because, having 
resolved to die in Florence rather than live in exile, he wished 
his death to be accompanied by some memorable action. 

This disturbance having been raised and quelled almost at 
the same time, the citizens returned to their accustomed 
mode of life, hoping to enjoy, without anxiety, the state they 

B. vn. ch. 5. a d. 1 474. YOLTERRA REBELS. 341 

had now established and confirmed. Hence arose many of 
those evils which, usually result from peace ; for the youth hav- 
ing become more dissolute than before, more extravagant in 
dress, feasting, and other licentiousness, and being without 
employment, wasted their time and means on gaming and 
women ; their principal study being how to appear splendid 
in apparel, and attain a crafty shrewdness in discourse ; he 
who could make the most poignant remark being considered 
the wisest, and being most respected. These manners de- 
rived additional encouragement from the followers of the 
duke of Milan, who, with his duchess and the whole ducal 
court, as it was said, to fulfil a vow, came to Florence, where 
he was received with all the pomp and respect due to so 
great a prince, and one so intimately connected with the 
Florentine people. Upon this occasion the city witnessed an 
unprecedented exhibition ; for, during Lent, when the church 
commands us to abstain from animal food, the Milanese, 
without respect for either God or his church, ate of it daily. 
Many spectacles were exhibited in honour of the duke, and 
amongst others, in the temple of Santo Spirito, was repre- 
sented the descent of the Holy Ghost upon the apostles ; 
and in consequence of the numerous fires used upon the oc- 
casion, some of the wood-work became ignited, and the 
church was completely destroyed by the flames. Many 
thought that the Almighty being offended at our miscon- 
duct, took this method of signifying his displeasure. If, 
therefore, the duke found the city full of courtly delicacies, 
and customs unsuitable to well-regulated conduct, he left it 
in a much worse state. Hence the good citizens thought it 
necessary to restrain these improprieties, and made a law to 
put a stop to extravagance in dress, feasts, and funerals. 

In the midst of this universal peace, a new and unexpected 
disturbance arose in Tuscany. Certain citizens of Volterra 
had discovered an alum-mine in their district, and being 
aware of the profit derivable from it, in order to obtain the 
means of working and securing it, they applied to some 
Florentines, and allowed them to share in the profits. This, 
as is frequently the case with new undertakings, at first ex- 
cited little attention from the people of Volterra ; but in 
time, finding the profits derived from it had become consider- 
able, they fruitlessly endeavoured to effect what at first 

342 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. m. ch. 5. a.d.1474. 

might have been easily accomplished. They began by agi- 
tating the question in their councils, declaring it grossly 
improper that a source of wealth discovered in the public 
lands should be converted to the emolument of private indi- 
viduals. They next sent advocates to Florence, and the 
question was referred to the consideration of certain citizens, 
who, either through being bribed by the party in possession, 
or from a sincere conviction, declared the aim of the people 
of Volterra to be unjust in desiring to deprive their citizens 
of the fruit of their labour ; and decided that the alum-pit 
was the rightful property of those who had hitherto wrought 
it ; but, at the same time, recommended them to pay an 
annual sum by way of acknowledgement to the city. This 
answer instead of abating, served only to increase the ani- 
mosities and tumult in Volterra, and absorbed entire atten- 
tion both in the councils and throughout the city ; the people 
demanding the restitution of what they considered their due, 
and the proprietors insisting upon their right to retain what 
they had originally acquired, and what had subsequently been 
confirmed to them by the decision of the Florentines. In 
the midst of these disturbances, a respectable citizen, named 
II Pecorino, was killed, together with several others, who had 
embraced the same side, whose houses were also plundered 
and burnt ; and the fury of the mob rose to such a height, 
that they were with difficulty restrained from putting the 
Florentine rectors to death. 

After the first outrage, the Volterrani immediately de- 
termined to send ambassadors to Florence, who intimated, 
that if the Signory would allow them their ancient privileges, 
the city would remain subject to them as formerly. Many 
and various were the opinions concerning the reply to be 
made. Tommaso Soderini advised that they should accept 
the submission of the people of Volterra, upon any conditions 
with which they were disposed to make it ; for he considered 
it unseasonable and unwise to kindle a flame so near home that 
it might burn their own dwelling ; he suspected the pope's 
ambition, and was apprehensive of the power of the king ; 
nor could he confide in the friendship either of the duke or 
the Venetians, having no assurance of the sincerity of 
the latter, or the valour of the former. He concluded by 
quoting that trite proverb, " Meglio un magro accordo che 

B. 5.A.D. 1474. PILLAGE OF VOLTERRA. 343 

una grassa vittoria."* On the other hand, Lorenzo de' 
Medici, thinking this an opportunity for exhibiting his pru- 
dence and wisdom, and being strenuously supported by those 
who envied the influence of Tommaso Soderini, resolved to 
march against them, and punish the arrogance of the people 
of Volterra with arms ; declaring that if they were not made a 
a striking example, others would, without the least fear or 
respect, upon every slight occasion, adopt a similar course. 
The enterprise being resolved on, the Volterrani were told 
that they could not demand the observance of conditions 
which they themselves had broken, and therefore must either 
submit to the discretion of the Signory or expect war. With 
this answer they returned to their city, and prepared for its 
defence ; fortifying the place, and sending to all the princes 
of Italy to request assistance, none of whom listened to them, 
except the Siennese and the lord of Piombino, who gave 
them some hope of aid. The Florentines, on the other 
hand, thinking success dependent principally upon celerity, 
assembled ten thousand foot and two thousand horse, who, 
under the command of Federigo, lord of Urbino, marched 
into the country of Volterra, and quickly took entire pos- 
session of it. They then encamped before the city, which, 
being in a lofty situation, and precipitous on all sides, could 
only be approached by a narrow pass near the church of St. 
Alessandro. The Volterrani had engaged for their defence 
about one thousand mercenaries, who, perceiving the great 
superiority of the Florentines, found the place untenable, and 
were tardy in their defensive operations, but indefatigable 
in the constant injuries they committed upon the people of 
the place. Thus these poor citizens were harassed by the 
enemy without, and by their own soldiery within ; so, des- 
pairing of their safety, they began to think of a capitulation ; 
and, being unable to obtain better terms, submitted to the 
discretion of the Florentine commissaries, who ordered the 
gates to be opened, and. introduced the greater part of their 
forces. They then proceeded to the palace, and commanded 
the priors to retire to their homes ; and, on the way thither, 
one of them was in derision stripped by the soldiers. From 
this beginning (so much more easily are men predisposed to 

* A lean peace is better than a fat victory. 

3 J 4 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. rn. ch. 6. ad. 1474. 

evil tlian to good; originated the pillage and destruction of 
the city ; which for a whole day suffered the greatest horrors, 
neither women nor sacred places being spared ; and the 
soldiery, those engaged for its defence as well as its assail- 
ants, plundered all that came within their reach. The news 
of this victory was received with great joy at Florence, and 
as the expedition had been undertaken wholly by the advice 
of Lorenzo, he acquired great reputation. Upon which one 
of the intimate friends of Tommaso Soderini, reminding him 
of the advice he had given, asked him what he thought of 
the taking of Volterra ; to which he replied, " To me the 
place seems rather lost than won ; for had it been received 
on equitable terms, advantage and security would have been 
the result ; but having to retain it by force, it will in critical 
junctures occasion weakness and anxiety, and in times of 
peace, injury and expense." 


Origin of the animosity between Sixtus IV. and Lorenzo de' Medici — 
Carlo di Braccio da Perugia attacks the Siennese — Carlo retires by 
desire of the Florentines — Conspiracy against Galeazzo, duke of Milan — 
His vices — He is slain by the conspirators — Their deaths. 

The pope, anxious to retain the territories of the church in 
obedience, had caused Spoleto to be sacked for having, through 
internal factions, fallen into rebellion. Citta di Castello being 
in the same state of contumacy, he besieged that place ; and 
Niccolo Vitelli its prince, being on intimate terms with Lo- 
renzo de' Medici, obtained assistance from him, which, though 
inadequate, was quite enough to originate that enmity between 
Sixtus IV. and the Medici afterwards productive of such 
unhappy results. Nor would this have been so long in de- 
velopment had not the death of Frate Piero, cardinal of St. 
Sixtus, taken place ; who, after having travelled over Italy 
and visited Venice and Milan (under the pretence of doing 
honour to the marriage of Ercole, marquis of Ferrara), went 
about sounding the minds of the princes, to learn how they ch. 6. a.d.1475. POPE SIXTUS IV. 345 

were disposed towards the Florentines. Bat upon his return 
he died, not without suspicion of having been poisoned by 
the Venetians, who found they would have reason to fear 
Sixtus if he were allowed to avail himself of the talents and 
exertions of Frate Piero. Although of very low extraction, 
and meanly brought up within the walls of a convent, he 
had no sooner attained the distinction of the scarlet hat, than 
he exhibited such inordinate pride and ambition, that the ponti- 
ficate seemed too little for him, and he gave a feast in Rome 
which would have seemed extraordinary even for a king, the 
expense exceeding twenty thousand florins. Deprived of 
this minister, the designs of Sixtus proceeded with less 
promptitude. The Florentines, the duke, and the Venetians 
having renewed their league, and allowed the pope and the 
king to join them if they thought proper, the two latter 
also entered into a league, reserving an opening for the others 
if they were desirous to become parties to it. Italy was 
thus divided in two factions ; for circumstances daily arose 
which occasioned ill feeling between the two leagues ; as 
occurred with respect to the island of Cyprus, to which 
Ferrando laid claim, and the Venetians occupied. Thus the 
pope and the king became more closely united. Federigo, 
prince of Urbino, was at this time one of the first generals of 
Italy ; and had long served the Florentines. In order, if pos- 
sible, to deprive the hostile league of their captain, the pope 
advised, and the king requested him to pay a visit to them. 
To the surprise and displeasure of the Florentines, Federigo 
complied ; for they thought the same fate awaited him as had 
befallen Niccolo Piccinino. However, the result was quite 
different ; for he returned from Naples and Rome greatly 
honoured, and with the appointment of general to their 
forces. They also endeavoured to gain over to their interests 
the lords of Romagna and the Siennese, that they might 
more easily injure the Florentines, who, becoming aware of 
these things, used their utmost endeavours to defend them- 
selves against the ambition of their enemies ; and having 
lost Federigo d' Urbino, they engaged Roberto da Rimino in 
his place, renewed the league with the Perugini and formed 
one with the prince of Faenza. The pope and the king as- 
signed, as the reasons of their animosity against the Flo- 
rentines, that they wished to withdraw them from the Vcne- 

346 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B.yii. ch. 6. a.d. 1476. 

tian alliance, and associate them with their own league ; for 
the pope did not think the church could maintain her repu- 
tation, nor the Count Girolamo retain the states of Romagna, 
whilst the Florentines and the Venetians remained united. 
The Florentines conjectured their design was to set them 
at enmity with the Venetians, not so much for the sake 
of gaining their friendship as to be able the more easily to 
injure them. Two years passed away in these jealousies 
and discontents before any disturbance broke out ; but 
the first which occurred, and that but trivial, took place in 

Braccio of Perugia, whom we have frequently mentioned 
as one of the most distinguished warriors of Italy, left two 
sons, Oddo and Carlo ; the latter was of tender years ; the 
former, as above related, was slain by the people of Val di 
Lamona ; but Carlo, when he came to mature age, was by 
the Venetians, out of respect for the memory of his father, 
and the hopes they entertained from himself, received amongst 
the condottieri of their republic. The term of his engage- 
ment having expired, he did not design to renew it imme- 
diately, but resolved to try if, by his own influence and his 
father's reputation, he could recover possession of Perugia. 
To this the Venetians willingly consented, for they usually 
extended their dominion by any changes that occurred, in the 
neighbouring states. Carlo consequently came into Tuscany, 
but found more difficulties in his attempt upon Perugia than 
he had anticipated, on account of its being allied with the 
Florentines ; and desirous of doing something worthy of 
memory, he made war upon the Siennese, alleging them to be 
indebted to him for services performed by his father in the 
affairs of that republic, and attacked them with such im- 
petuosity as to threaten the total overthrow of their dominion. 
The Siennese, ever ready to suspect the Florentines, per- 
suaded themselves that this outrage had been committed with 
their cognizance, and made heavy complaints to the pope and 
the king against them. They also sent ambassadors to 
Florence, to complain of the injuries they had suffered, and 
adroitly intimated, that if Carlo had not been secretly sup- 
ported he could not have made war upon them with such 
perfect security. The Florentines denied all participation in 
the proceedings of Carlo, expressed their most earnest wish 

B.r .1. ch. 6.A.D. 1476. CONSPIRACY IN MILAN. 347 

to do everything in their power to put a stop to them, 
and allowed the ambassadors to use whatever terms they 
pleased in the name of the Signory, to command him to 
desist. Carlo complained that the Florentines, by their un- 
willingness to support him, had deprived themselves of a 
most valuable acquisition and him of great glory ; for he 
could have ensured them the possession of the whole 
territory in a short time, from the want of courage in the 
people, and the ineffectual provision they had made for their 
defence. He then withdrew to his engagement under the 
Venetians ; but the Siennese, although delivered from such 
imminent peril by the Florentines, were still very indignant 
against them; considering themselves under no obligation to 
those who had delivered them from an evil to which they 
had first exposed them. 

Whilst the transactions between the king and the pope 
were in progress, and those in Tuscany in the manner we have 
related, an event of greater importance occurred in Lombardy. 
Cola Montano, a learned and ambitious man, taught the 
Latin language to the youth of the principal families in Milan. 
Either out of hatred to the character and manners of the 
duke, or from some other cause, he constantly deprecated the 
condition of those who live under a bad prince ; calling those 
glorious and happy who had the good fortune to be born and 
live in a republic. He endeavoured to show that the most 
celebrated men had been produced in republics, and not reared 
under princes ; that the former cherish virtue, whilst the 
latter destroy it ; the one deriving advantage from virtuous 
men, whilst the latter naturally fear them. The youths with 
whom he was most intimate were Giovanni Andrea Lampog- 
nano, Carlo Visconti, and Girolamo Olgiato. He frequently 
discussed with them the faults of their prince, and the 
wretched condition of those who were subject to him ; and 
by constantly inculcating his principles, acquired such an 
ascendancy over their minds as to induce them to bind them- 
selves by oath to effect the duke's destruction, as soon as 
they became old enough to attempt it. Their minds being 
fully occupied with this design, which grew with their years, 
the duke's conduct and their own private injuries served to 
hasten its execution. Galeazzo was licentious and cruel, of 
both which vices he had given such repeated proofs, that he 

348 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. vir. ch. 6. A r>. 1476. 

became odious to all. Not content with corrupting the 
wives of the nobility, he also took pleasure in making it 
notorious ; nor was he satisfied with murdering individuals 
unless he effected their deaths by some unusual cruelty. He 
was suspected of having destroyed his own mother; for, 
not considering himself prince whilst she was present, he 
conducted himself in such a manner as induced her to 
withdraw from his court, and, travelling towards Cre- 
mona, which she obtained as part of her marriage portion, 
she was seized with a sudden illness, and died upon the road ; 
which made many think her son had caused her death. The 
duke had dishonoured both Carlo and Girolamo in respect to 
their wives or other female relatives, and had refused to 
concede to Giovanandrea possession of the monastery of 
Miramondo, of which he had obtained a grant from the pope 
for a near relative. These private injuries increased the 
young men's desire for vengeance, and the deliverance of their 
country from so many evils ; trusting that whenever they 
should succeed in destroying the duke, many of the nobility 
and all the people would rise in their defence. Being re- 
solved upon their undertaking, they were often together, 
which, on account of their long intimacy, did not excite any 
suspicion. They frequently discussed the subject ; and in order 
to familiarise their minds with the deed itself, they practised 
striking each other in the breast and in the side with the 
sheathed daggers intended to be used for the purpose. On 
considering the most suitable time and place, the castle 
seemed insecure ; during^ the chase, uncertain and dan- 
gerous ; whilst going about the city for his own amuse- 
ment, difficult if not impracticable ; and, at a banquet, of 
doubtful result. They, therefore, determined to kill him 
upon the occasion of some procession or public festivity when 
there would be no doubt of his presence, and where they 
might, under various pretexts, assemble their friends. It was 
also resolved, that if one of their number were prevented 
from attending, on any account whatever, the rest should put 
him to death in the midst of their armed enemies. 

It was now the close of the year 1476, near Christmas, and 
as it was customary for the duke to go upon St. Stephen's 
day, in great solemnity, to the church of that martyr, they 
considered this the most suitable opportunity for the execu- 

B. vii. ch. G. a.d. 1476. CONSPIRACY IN MILAN. 349 

tion of their design. Upon the morning of that day they 
ordered some of their most trusty friends and servants to 
arm, telling them they wished to go to the assistance of Gio- 
vanandrea, who, contrary to the wish of some of his neigh- 
bours, intended to turn a watercourse into his estate ; but 
that before they went they wished to take leave of the prince. 
They also assembled, under various pretences, other friends 
and relatives, trusting that when the deed was accomplished, 
every one would join them in the completion of their enter- 
prise. It was their intention, after the duke's death, to col- 
lect their followers together and proceed to those parts of 
the city where they imagined the plebeians would be most 
disposed to take arms against the duchess and the principal 
ministers of state, and they thought the people, on account 
of the famine which then prevailed, would easily be induced 
to follow them ; for it was their design to give up the 
houses of Cecco Simonetta, Giovanni Botti, and Francesco 
Lucani, all leading men in the government, to be plundered, 
and by this means gain over the populace and restore liberty 
to the community. With these ideas, and with minds re- 
solved upon their execution, Giovanandrea, together with 
the rest, were early at the church, and heard mass together ; 
after which, Giovanandrea, turning to a statue of St. Am- 
brose, said, *' patron of our city ! thou knowest our intention, 
and the end we would attain, by so many dangers ; favour 
our enterprise, and prove, by protecting the oppressed, that 
tyranny is offensive to thee." To the duke, on the other 
hand, when intending to go to the church, many omens oc- 
curred of his approaching death ; for in the morning, having 
put on a cuirass, as was his frequent custom, he immediately 
took it off again, either because it inconvenienced him, or 
that he did not like its appearance. He then wished to hear 
mass in the castle, and found that the priest who officiated in 
the chapel had gone to St. Stephen's, and had taken with 
him the sacred utensils. On this he desired the service to be 
performed by the bishop of Como, who acquainted him with 
preventing circumstances. Thus, almost compelled, he de- 
termined to go to the church ; but before his departure, 
caused his sons, Giovan Galeazzo and Ernies, to be brought 
to him, whom he embraced and kissed several times, seeming 
reluctant to part with them. He then left the castle, and, 

350 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. vn. ch C. a.d. 147S. 

with the ambassadors of Ferrara and Mantua on either hand, 
proceeded to St. Stephen's. The conspirators, to avoid ex- 
citing suspicion, and to escape the cold, which was very severe, 
had withdrawn to an apartment of the archpriest, who was a 
friend of theirs ; but hearing the duke's approach, they came 
into the church, Giovanandrea and Girolamo placing them- 
selves upon the right hand of the entrance, and Carlo on the 
left. Those who led the procession had already entered, and 
were followed by the duke, surrounded by such a multitude 
as is usual on similar occasions. The first attack was made 
by Lampognano and Girolamo, who, pretending to clear the 
way for the prince, came close to him, and grasping their 
daggers, which, being short and sharp, were concealed in the 
sleeves of their vests, struck at him. Lampognano gave him 
two wounds, one in the belly, the other in the throat. Giro- 
lamo struck him in the throat and breast. Carlo Visconti. 
being nearer the door, and the duke having passed, could 
could not wound him in front ; but with two strokes, trans- 
pierced his shoulder and spine. These six wounds were in- 
flicted so instantaneously, that the duke had fallen before 
any one was aware of what had happened, and he expired, 
having only once ejaculated the name of the Virgin, as if im- 
ploring her assistance. A great tumult immediately ensued, 
several swords were drawn, and, as often happens in sudden 
emergencies, some fled from the church, and others, ran to- 
wards the scene of tumult, both without any definite motive 
or knowledge of what had occurred. Those, however, who 
were nearest the duke and had seen him slain, recognizing 
the murderers, pursued them. Giovanandrea, endeavouring 
to make his way out of the church, proceeded amongst the 
women, who being numerous, and according to their custom, 
seated upon the ground, was prevented in his progress by their 
apparel, and being overtaken, he was killed by a Moor, one 
of the duke's footmen. Carlo was slain by those who were 
immediately around him. Girolama Olgiato passed through 
the crowd, and got out of the church ; but seeing his com- 
panions dead, and not knowing where else to go, he pro- 
ceeded home, where his father and brothers refused to 
receive him ; his mother only, having compassion on her 
son recommended him to a priest, an old friend of the fa- 
mily, who, disguising him in his own apparel, led him to 

B. nt. ch. 6. a.d. 147G. DUKE GALEAZZO SLAIN. 351 

his house. Here lie remained two days, not without hope 
that some disturbance might arise in Milan which would con- 
tribute to his safety. This not occurring, and apprehensive 
that his hiding-place would be discovered, he endeavoured to 
escape in disguise, but being observed, he was given over to 
justice, and disclosed all the particulars of the conspiracy. 
Girolamo was 23 years of age, and exhibited no less com- 
posure at his death than resolution in his previous conduct ; 
for being stripped of his apparel, and in the hands of the 
executioner, who stood by with the sword unsheathed, ready 
to deprive him of life, he repeated the following words, in 
the Latin tongue, in which he was well versed ; " Mors acer- 
ba, fama perpetua, stabit vetus memoria facti." 

The enterprise of these unfortunate young men was con- 
ducted with secrecy and executed with resolution ; and they 
failed for want of the support of those whom they expected 
would rise in their defence. Let princes therefore learn to 
live, so as to render themselves beloved and respected by 
their subjects, that none may have hope of safety after having 
destroyed them ; and let others see how vain is the expecta- 
tion which induces them to trust so much to the multitude, as 
to believe, that even when discontented, they will either em- 
brace or ward off their dangers. This event spread conster- 
nation all over Italy ; but those which shortly afterwards 
occurred in Florence caused much more alarm, and termi- 
nated a peace of twelve years' continuance, as will be shown 
in the following book ; which, having commenced with blood 
and horror, will have a melancholy and tearful conclusion. 




State of the family of the Medici at Florence — Enmity of Sixtus IV. 
towards Florence — Differences between the family of the Pazzi and that 
of the Medici— Beginning of the conspiracy of the Pazzi — Arrangements 
to effect the design of the conspiracy — Giovan Batista da Montesecco is 
sent to Florence — The pope joins the conspiracy — The king of Naples 
becomes a party to it — Names of the conspirators — The conspirators 
make many ineffectual attempts to kill Lorenzo and Giuliano de' Medici 
— Their final arrangement — Order of the conspiracy. 

This book commencing between two conspiracies, the one 
at Milan already narrated, the other yet to be recorded, it 
would seem appropriate, and in accordance with our usual 
custom, were we to treat of the nature and importance of 
these terrible demonstrations. This we should willingly do 
had we not discussed the matter elsewhere, or could it be 
comprised in few words. But requiring much consider- 
ation, and being already noticed in another place, it will 
be omitted, and Ave shall proceed with our narrative. The 
government of the Medici having subdued all its avowed 
enemies in order to obtain for that family undivided au- 
thority, and distinguish them from other citizens in their 
relation to the rest, found it necessary to subdue those 
who secretly plotted against them. Whilst Medici contended 
with other families their equals in authority and reputation, 
those who envied their power were able to oppose them 
openly without danger of being suppressed at the first 
demonstration of hostility ; for the magistrates being free, 
neither party had occasion to fear, till one or other of them 
was overcome. But after the victory of 1466, the govern- 
ment became so entirely centred in the Medici, and they 
acquired so much authority, that discontented spirits 
were obliged either to suffer in silence, or, if desirous to 
destroy them, to attempt it in secrecy, and by clandestine 
means ; which plots rarely succeed, and most commonly 

B. Tin. en. 1. ad. 1477. FACTIONS IN ITALY. 353 

involve the ruin of those concerned in them, while they fre- 
quently contribute to the aggrandisement of those against 
whom they are directed. Thus the prince of a city attacked 
by a conspiracy, if not slain like the duke of Milan (which 
seldom happens), almost always attains to a greater degree of 
power, and very often has his good disposition perverted to 
evil. The proceedings of his enemies give him cause for fear ; 
fear suggests the necessity of providing for his own safety, 
which involves the injury of others ; and hence arise animo- 
sities, and not unfrequently his ruin. Thus these conspiracies 
quickly occasion the destruction of their contrivers, and, in 
time, inevitably injure their primary object. 

Italy, as we have seen above, was divided into two factions ; 
the pope and the king on one side ; on the other, the Vene- 
tians, the duke, and the Florentines. Although the flames 
of war had not yet broken out, every day gave rise to some 
new occasion for rekindling them ; and the pope, in particular, 
in all his plans endeavoured to annoy the Florentine govern- 
ment. Thus Filippo de' Medici, archbishop of Pisa, being 
dead, Francesco Salviati, a declared enemy of the Medici, 
was appointed his successor, contrary to the wish of the Sig- 
nory of Florence, who being unwilling to give him posses- 
sion, there arose between them and the pope many fresh 
grounds of offence, before the matter was settled. Besides 
this, he conferred, at Rome, many favours upon the family 
of the Pazzi, and opposed that of the Medici, whenever 
an opportunity offered. The Pazzi were at this time, 
both on account of nobility of birth and their great wealth, 
the most brilliant in Florence. The head of this family was 
Jacopo, whom the people, on account of his distinguished 
pre-eminence, had made a knight. He had no children, 
except one natural daughter, but many nephews, sons of his 
brothers Piero and Antonio, the first of whom were Gug- 
lielmo, Francesco, Rinato, Giovanni, and then, Andrea, Nic- 
colo, and Galeotto. Cosmo de' Medici, noticing the riches and 
rank of this family, had given his grand-daughter, Bianca, 
to Guglielmo, hoping by this marriage to unite the houses, 
and obviate those enmities and dissensions so frequently 
occasioned by jealousy. However (so uncertain and falla- 
cious are our expectations), very different feelings were 
thus originated; for Lorenzo's advisers pointed out to him 

354 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B.vm. ch. 1. a.d. 1477. 

how dangerous it was, and how injurious to his autho- 
rity, to unite in the same individuals so much wealth and 
power. In consequence, neither Jacopo nor his nephews 
obtained those degrees of honour, which in the opinion of 
other citizens were their due. This gave rise to anger in 
the Pazzi, and fear on the part of the Medici ; as the former 
of these increased, so did the latter ; and upon all occasions, 
when the Pazzi came in competition with other citizens, 
their claims to distinction, however strong, were set aside by 
the magistracy. Francesco de' Pazzi, being at Rome, the 
Council of Eight, upon some trivial occasion, compelled him 
to return, without treating him with the respect usually ob- 
served towards great citizens, so that the Pazzi everywhere 
bitterly complained of the ill usage thay experienced, and 
thus excited suspicion in others, and brought down greater 
evils upon themselves. Giovanni de' Pazzi had married the 
daughter of Giovanni Buonromei, a very wealthy man, whose 
riches, on his decease, without other children, came to his 
daughter. His nephew, Carlo, however, took possession of 
part, and the question being litigated, a law was passed, by 
virtue of which the wife of Giovanni de' Pazzi was rob- 
bed of her inheritance, and it was given to Carlo. In this 
piece of injustice, the Pazzi at once recognised the influ- 
ence of the Medici. Giuliano de' Medici often complained 
to his brother Lorenzo of the affair, saying, he was afraid, 
that by grasping at too much they would lose all. 

Lorenzo, flushed with youth and power, would assume the di- 
rection of everything, and resolved that all transactions should 
bear an impress of his influence. The Pazzi, with their nobility 
and wealth unable to endure so many affronts, began to devise 
some means of vengeance. The first who spoke of any attempt 
against the Medici, was Francesco, who, being more sensitive 
and resolute than the others, determined either to obtain what 
was withheld from him, or lose what he still possessed. As 
the government of Florence gave him great offence, he 
resided almost constantly at Rome, where, like other Floren- 
tine merchants, he conducted extensive commercial oper- 
ations ; and being a most intimate friend of Count Giro- 
A amo, they frequently complained to each other of the 
conduct of the Medici. After a while they began to think, 
that for the count to retain his estates, or the Pazzi their 

B. vm. ch. 1. a.d. 1477. CONSPIRACY AGAINST THE MEDICT. 355 

rights in the city, it would be necessary to change the 
government of Florence ; and this they considered could 
not be done without the death of Giuliano and Loren- 
zo. They imagined the pope and the king would be 
easily induced to consent, because each could be convinced 
of the facility of the enterprise. Having acquired these 
ideas, they communicated them to Francesco Salviati, arch- 
bishop of Pisa, who, being ambitious, and recently of- 
fended by the Medici, willingly adopted their views. Con- 
sidering their next step, they resolved, in order to facili- 
tate the design, to obtain the consent of Jacopo de' Pazzi, 
without whose concurrence they feared it would be imprac- 
ticable. With this view, it was resolved that Francesco de' 
Pazzi should go to Florence, whilst the archbishop and the 
count were to remain at Rome, to be ready to communicate 
with the pope when a suitable opportunity occurred. Fran- 
cesco found Jacopo de' Pazzi more cautious and difficult to 
persuade than he could have wished, and on imparting this 
to his friends at Rome, it was thought he desired the sanc- 
tion of some greater authority to induce him to adopt their 
views. Upon this, the archbishop and the count communi- 
cated the whole affair to Giovanni Batista da Montesecco, 
a leader of the papal forces, possessing military reputation, 
and under obligations to the pope and the count. To him 
the affair seemed difficult and dangerous, while the arch- 
bishop endeavoured to obviate his objections by showing how 
much assistance the pope and the king would lend to the 
enterprise ; the hatred of the Florentines towards the Medici, 
the numerous friends the Salviati and the Pazzi would bring 
with them, the readiness with which the young men might be 
slain, on account of their going about the city unaccompanied 
and without suspicion, and the facility with which the govern- 
ment might then be changed. These things Giovanbatista 
did not in reality believe, for he had heard from many Floren- 
tines quite contrary statements. 

Whilst occupied with these deliberations, Carlo, lord of 
Faenza, was taken ill, and fears were entertained for his life. 
This circumstance seemed to the archbishop and the count to 
offer an opportunity for sending Giovanbatista to Florence, 
and thence to Romagna, under pretence of recovering certain 
territories belonging to the latter, of which the lord of Faenza 

A A 2 

356 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B.vm. ch. 1. a.d. 1477. 

had taken possession. The count therefore commissioned 
Giovanbatista to have an interview with Lorenzo de' Medici, 
and on his part request his advice how to proceed with respect 
to the affair of Romagna ; that he should then see Francesco 
de' Pazzi, and in conjunction with him endeavour to induce 
his uncle Jacopo to adopt their ideas. To render the pope's 
authority available in their behalf, Giovanbatista was ordered, 
before his departure, to communicate with the pontiff, who 
offered every means at his disposal in favour of their enter- 
prise. Giovanbatista, having arrived at Florence, obtained an 
interview with Lorenzo, by whom he was most graciously 
received ; and with regard to the advice he was commissioned 
to ask, obtained a wise and friendly answer ; so that he 
was astonished at finding him quite a different character from 
what he had been represented, and considered him to possess 
great sagacity, an affectionate heart, and most amicably dis- 
posed towards the count. He found Francesco de' Pazzi 
had gone to Lucca, and spoke to Jacopo, who was at first 
quite opposed to their design, but before they parted the 
pope's authority seemed to have influenced him ; for he told 
Giovani Batista, that he might go to Romagna, and that 
before his return Francesco would be with him, and they 
would then consult more particularly upon the subject. 
Giovanbatista proceeded to Romagna, and soon returned 
to Florence. After a pretended consultation with Lo- 
renzo, upon the count's affairs, he obtained an interview 
with Francesco and Jacopo de' Pazzi, when the latter gave 
his consent to their enterprise. They then discussed the 
means of carrying it into effect. Jacopo de' Pazzi was of 
opinion that it could not be effected whilst both the bro- 
thers remained at Florence ; and therefore it would be 
better to wait till Lorenzo went to Rome, whither it was re- 
ported he had an intention of going ; for then their object 
would be more easily attained. Francesco de' Pazzi had no 
objection to Lorenzo being at Rome, but if he were to forego 
the journey, he thought that both the brothers might be 
slain, either at a marriage, or at a play, or in a church. 
With regard to foreign assistance, he supposed the pope 
might assemble forces for the conquest of the fortress of Mon- 
tone, being justified in taking it from Count Carlo, who had 
caused the tumults already spoken of in Sienna and Perueria. 

B.vm. ch. 1. a.d. 1476. INCREASE OF CONSPIRATORS. 357 

Still no definite arrangement was made ; but it was resolved 
that Giovanbatista and Francesco de' Pazzi should go to 
Rome and settle everything with the pontiff. The matter was 
again debated at Rome ; and at length it was concluded, that 
besides an expedition against Montone, Giovan Francesco da 
Tolentino, a leader of the papal troops, should go into Ro- 
magna, and Lorenzo da Castello to the Val di Tavere ; 
that each, with the forces of the country, should hold him- 
self in readiness to perform the commands of the archbishop 
de' Salviati and Francesco de' Pazzi, both of whom were to 
come to Florence, and provide for the execution of their de- 
sign, with the assistance of Giovanbatista da Montesecco. King 
Ferrando promised, by his ambassador, to contribute all in 
his power to the success of their undertaking. Francesco de' 
Pazzi and the archbishop having arrived at Florence, pre- 
vailed upon Jacopo di Poggio, a well educated youth, but 
ambitious and very desirous of change, to join them, and two 
others, each of the name of Jacopo Salviati, one a brother, 
the other a kinsman, of the archbishop. They also gained 
over Bernardo Bandini and Napoleone Franzesi, two bold 
young men, under great obligations to the family of the 
Pazzi. Besides those already mentioned, they were joined 
by Antonio da Volterra and a priest named Stefano, who taught 
Latin to the daughter of Jacopo de' Pazzi. Rinato de' Pazzi, a 
grave and prudent man, being quite aware of the evils re- 
sulting from such undertakings, refused all participation in 
the conspiracy ; he held it in abhorrence, and, as much as 
possible, without betraying his kinsmen, endeavoured to 
counteract it. 

The pope had sent RafFaello di Riario, a nephew of Count 
Girolamo, to the college of Pisa, to study canon law, and 
whilst there, had advanced him to the dignity of a car- 
dinal. The conspirators determined to bring this cardinal 
to Florence, as they would thus be better able to conceal 
their design, since any persons requisite to be introduced into 
the city might easily be made to appear as a part of his reti- 
nue, and his arrival might facilitate the completion of their 
enterprise. The cardinal came, and was received by Jacopo 
de" Pazzi at his villa of Montughi, near Florence. By his 
means it was also intended to bring together Giuliano and 
Lorenzo, and whenever this happened,, to put them both to 

358 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B.vm. ch. 1. a.d. 1478. 

death. They therefore invited them to meet the cardinal at 
their villa of Fiesole ; but Giuliano, either intentionally or 
through some preventing cause, did not attend ; and this de- 
sign having failed, they thought, that if asked to an enter- 
tainment at Florence, both brothers would certainly be 
present. With this intention they appointed Sunday, the 
26th April, 1478, to give a great feast; and, resolving to 
assassinate them at table, the conspirators met on the Sa- 
turday evening, to arrange all proceedings for the follow- 
ing day. In the morning, it was intimated to Francesco, 
that Giuliano would be absent ; on which the conspira- 
tors again assembled, and finding they could no longer 
defer the execution of their design, since it would be im- 
possible among so many to preserve secrecy, they deter- 
mined to complete it in the cathedral church of Santa 
Reparata, where the cardinal attending, the two brothers 
would be present as usual. They wished Giovan Batista da 
Montesecco to undertake the murder of Lorenzo, whilst that 
of Giuliano was assigned to Francesco de' Pazzi and Bernardo 
Bandini. Giovan Batista refused, either because his famili- 
arity with Lorenzo had created feelings in his favour, or 
from some other reason, saying he should not have resolu- 
tion sufficient to commit such a deed in a church, and thus 
add sacrilege to treachery. This caused the failure of 
their undertaking; for time pressing, they were compelled 
to substitute Antonio da Volterra and Stefano, the priest, 
two men, who, from nature and habit, were the most unsuit- 
able of any ; for if firmness and resolution joined with ex- 
perience in bloodshed be necessary upon any occasion, it is 
on such as these ; and it often happens that those who are 
expert in arms, and have faced death in all forms on the field 
of battle, still fail in an affair like this. Having now de- 
cided upon the time, they resolved that the signal for the 
attack should be the moment when the priest who cele- 
brated high mass should partake of the sacrament, and that, 
in the meantime, the Archbishop de' Salvati, with his fol- 
lowers, and Jacopo di Poggio, should take possession of 
the palace, in order that the Signory, after the young men's 
death, should voluntarily, or by force, contribute to their as- 



Giuliano de' Medici slain — Lorenzo escapes— The archbishop Salviati en- 
deavours to seize the palace of the Signory — He is taken and hanged — 
The enterprise of the conspirators entirely fails — Manifestations of the 
Florentines in favour of Lorenzo de' Medici — The conspirators punished 
— The funeral of Giuliano — The pope and the king of Naples make war 
upon the Florentines— Florence excommunicated — Speech of Lorenzo 
de' Medici to the citizens of Florence. 

The conspirators proceeded to Santa Reparata, where the 
cardinal and Lorenzo had already arrived. The church was 
crowded, and divine service commenced before Giuliano's 
arrival. Francesco de' Pazzi and Bernardo Bandini, who 
were appointed to be his murderers, went to his house, and 
finding him, they, by earnest entreaties, prevailed on him to 
accompany them. It is surprising that such intense hatred, 
and designs so full of horror as those of Francesco and Ber- 
nardo, could be so perfectly concealed ; for whilst conduct- 
ing him to the church, and after they had reached it, they 
amuced him with jests and playful discourse. Nor did 
Francesco forget, under pretence of endearment, to press 
him in his arms, so as to ascertain whether under his ap- 
parel he wore a cuirass or other means of defence. Giuli- 
ano and Lorenzo were both aware of the animosity of the 
Pazzi, and their desire to deprive them of the govern- 
ment; but they felt assured that any design would be at- 
tempted openly, and in conjunction with the civil authority. 
Thus being free from apprehension for their personal safety, 
both affected to be on friendly terms with them. The mur- 
derers being ready, each in his appointed station, which they 
could retain without any suspicion, on • account of the vast 
numbers assembled in the church, the preconcerted moment 
arrived, and Bernardo Bandini, with a short dagger provided 
for the purpose, struck Giuliano in the breast, who, after a 
few steps, fell to the earth. Francesco de* Pazzi threw him- 
self upon the body and covered him with wounds ; whilst, as if 
blinded by rage, he inflicted a deep incision upon his own leg. 
Antonio andStefano the priest attacked Lorenzo, and after deal- 
ing many blows, effected only a slight incision in the throat ; for 

360 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. a.d. 1478. 

either their want of resolution, the activity of Lorenzo, who, find- 
ing himself attacked, used his arms in his own defence, or the 
assistance of those by whom he was surrounded, rendered all 
attempts futile. They fled and concealed themselves, but 
being subsequently discovered, were put to death in the 
most ignominious manner, and their bodies dragged about the 
city. Lorenzo, with the friends he had about him, took re- 
fuge in the sacristy of the church. Bernardo Bandini, after 
Giuliano's death, also slew Francesco Nori, a most intimate 
friend of the Medici, either from some previous hatred or 
for having endeavoured to render assistance to Giuliano ; and 
not content with these murders, he ran in pursuit of Lorenzo, 
intending, by his own promptitude, to make up for the weak- 
ness and inefficiency of the others ; but finding he had taken 
refuge in the vestry, he was prevented. 

In the midst of these violent and fearful deeds, during 
which the uproar was so terrible, that it seemed almost suf- 
ficient to bring the church down upon its inmates, the car- 
dinal Riario remained close to the altar, where he was with 
difficulty kept in safety by the priests, until the Signory, 
upon the abatement of the disturbance, could conduct him 
to their palace, where he remained in the utmost terror till 
he was set at liberty. 

There were at this time in Florence some people of Pe- 
rugia, whom party feuds had compelled to leave their homes ; 
and the Pazzi, by promising to restore them to their coun- 
try, obtained their assistance. The Archbishop de' Salviati 
going to seize the palace, together with Jacopo di Poggio, 
and the Salviati his friends, took these Perugini with him, 
Having arrived, he left part of his people below, with 
orders, that when they heard a noise they should make them- 
selves masters of the entrance, while himself, with the greater 
part of the Perugini, proceeded above, and finding the Signory 
at dinner (for it was now late), was admitted after a short delay, 
by Cesare Petrucci, the gonfalonier of justice. He entered 
with only a few of his followers, the greater part of them 
being shut up in the cancelleria into which they had gone, 
whose doors were so contrived, that upon closing they 
oould not be opened from either side, without the key. The 
archbishop being with the gonfalonier, under pretence of 
having something to communicate on the part of the pope, 

B.viri. ch.2. a.d. 147S. THE CONSPIRACY FAILS. 361 

addressed him in such an incoherent and hesitating manner, 
and with so many changes of countenance, that the gonfalo- 
nier at once suspected him, and rushing out of the chamber 
to call assistance, found Jacopo di Poggio, whom he seized 
by the hair of the head, and gave into the custody of his 
attendants. The Signory hearing the tumult, snatched such 
arms as they could at the moment obtain, and all who had 
gone up with the archbishop, part of them being shut up, 
and part overcome with terror, were immediately slain or 
thrown alive out of the windows of the palace, at which the 
archbishop, the two Jacopi Salviati, and Jacopo di Poggio 
were hanged. Those whom the archbishop left below, hav- 
ing mastered the guard and taken possession of the entrance, 
occupied all the lower floors, so that the citizens, who in the 
uproar hastened to the palace, were unable to give either ad- 
vice or assistance to the Signory. 

Francesco de' Pazzi and Bernardo Bandini, perceiving 
Lorenzo's escape, and the principal agent in the enterprise 
seriously wounded, became immediately conscious of the 
imminent peril of their position. Bernardo, using the same 
energy in his own behalf that had served him against the 
Medici, finding all lost, saved himself by flight. Francesco, 
wounded as he was, got to his house, and endeavoured to get 
on horseback, for it had been arranged they should ride 
through the city and call the people to arms and liberty ; 
but he found himself unable, from the nature of his wound 
and the effusion of blood. He then took off his clothes, and, 
throwing himself naked upon his bed, begged Jacopo de' 
Pazzi to perform the part for which he was himself incapa- 
citated. Jacopo, though old and unaccustomed to such busi- 
ness, by way of making a last effort, mounted his horse, and, 
with about a hundred armed followers, collected without pre- 
vious preparation, hastened to the piazza of the palace, and 
endeavoured to assemble adherents by cries of " people," 
and " liberty ;" but the former, having been rendered deaf 
by the fortune and liberality of the Medici, the latter was 
unknown in Florence, and he found no followers. The 
signors, who held the upper part of the palace, saluted 
him with stones and threats. Jacopo, while hesitating, was 
met by Giovanni Seristori, his brother-in-law, who upbraided 
him with the troubles he had occasioned, and then advised 

362 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. vin. ch. 2. a.j>. 1478. 

him to go nome, for the people and liberty were as dear to 
other citizens as to himself. Thus deprived of every hope, 
Lorenzo being alive, Francesco seriously wounded, and none 
disposed to follow him, not knowing what to do, he resolved, 
if possible, to escape by flight ; and, accompanied by those 
whom he had led into the piazza, left Florence with the in- 
tention of going into Romagna. 

In the meantime, the whole city was roused to arms, and 
Lorenzo de' Medici, accompanied by a numerous escort, re- 
turned to his house. The palace was recovered from its 
assailants, all of whom were either slain or made prisoners. 
The name of the Medici echoed everywhere, and portions of 
dead bodies were seen borne on spears and scattered through 
the streets ; whilst every one was transported with rage 
against the Pazzi, and pursued them with relentless 
cruelty. The people took possession of their houses, and 
Francesco, naked as they found him, was led to the palace, 
and hanged beside the archbishop and the rest. He could 
not be induced, by any injurious words or deeds, either upon 
the way thither or afterwards, to utter a syllable, but regarding 
those around with a steady look, he silently sighed. Gug- 
lielmo de' Pazzi, brother-in-law to Lorenzo, fled to the latter's 
house, and by his innocence and the intercession of his wife, 
Bianca, he escaped death. There was not a citizen of any 
rank whatever who did not, upon this occasion, wait upon 
Lorenzo with an offer of his services ; so great were the 
popularity and good fortune which this family had acquired 
by their liberality and prudence. Rinato de 1 Pazzi was at 
his villa when the event took place, and on being informed of 
it, he endeavoured to escape in disguise, but was arrested 
upon the road and brought to Florence. Jacopo de' Pazzi 
was taken whilst crossing the mountains of Romagna, for 
the inhabitants of these parts having heard what had oc- 
curred, and seeing him in flight, attacked and brought him 
back to the city ; nor could he, though he frequently endea- 
voured, prevail with them to put him to death upon the road. 
Jacopo and Rinato were condemned within four days after 
the murder of Giuliano. And though so many deaths had 
been inflicted that the roads were covered with fragments of 
human bodies, not one excited a feeling of regret except that 
of Rinato ; for he was considered a wise and good man, and 

B. Tin. ch. 2. a.d.1478. FLORENCE EXCOMMUNICATED. 363 

possessed none of the pride for which the rest of his family 
were notorious. As if to mark the event by some extraor- 
dinary circumstance, Jacopo de' Pazzi, after having been 
buried in the tomb of his ancestors, was disinterred like an 
excommunicated person, and thrown into a hole at the out- 
side of the city walls ; from this grave he was taken, and 
with the halter in which he had been hanged, his body 
was dragged naked through the city, and, as if unfit for 
sepulture on earth, thrown by the populace into the Arno, 
whose waters were then very high. It was an awful in- 
stance of the instability of fortune, to see so wealthy a man, 
possessing the utmost earthly felicity, brought down to such 
a depth of misery, such utter ruin and extreme degradation. 
It is said he had vices, amongst which were gaming and pro- 
fane swearing, to which he was very much addicted ; but 
these seem more than balanced by his numerous charities, for 
he relieved many in distress, and bestowed much money for 
pious uses. It may also be recorded in his favour, that upon 
the Saturday preceding the death of Giuliano, in order that 
none might suffer from his misfortunes, he discharged all his 
debts ; and whatever property he possessed belonging to others, 
either in his own house or his places of business, he was 
particularly careful to return to its owners. Giovanni Batista 
da Montesecco, after a long examination, was beheaded ; 
Napoleone Franzesi escaped punishment by flight ; Giulielmo 
de' Pazzi was banished, and such of his cousins as remained 
alive were imprisoned in the fortress of Volterra. The dis- 
turbances being over, and the conspirators punished, the 
funeral obsequies of Giuliano were performed amid universal 
lamentation ; for he possessed all the liberality and humanity 
that could be wished for in one of his high station. He left 
a natural son, born some months after his death, named 
Giulio, who was endowed with that virtue and felicity with 
which the whole world is now acquainted ; and of which we 
shall speak at length when we come to our own times, if God 
spare us. The people who had assembled in favour of the 
Pazzi under Lorenzo da Castello in the Val di Tavere, and 
under Giovan Francesco da Tolentino in Romagna, approached 
Florence, but having heard of the failure of the conspiracy, 
they returned home. 

The changes desired by the pope and the king, in the go- 

364 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B. a.d. 1479. 

vernment of Florence, not having taken place, they deter- 
mined to effect by war what they had failed to accomplish by 
treachery ; and both assembled forces with all speed to attack 
the Florentine states ; publicly declaring, that they only 
wished the citizens to remove Lorenzo de' Medici, who alone 
of all the Florentines was their enemy. The king's forces 
had already passed the Tronto, and the pope's were in 
Perugia ; and that the citizens might feel the effect of spi- 
ritual as well as temporal weapons, the pontiff excommu- 
nicated and anathematized them. Finding themselves at- 
tacked by so many armies, the Florentines prepared for their 
defence with the utmost care. Lorenzo de' Medici, as the 
enemy's operations were said to be directed against himself 
alone, resolved first of all to assemble the Signory, and the 
most influential citizens, in the palace, to whom, being above 
three hundred in number, he spoke as follows : — " Most ex- 
cellent signors, and you, magnificent citizens, I know not 
whether I have more occasion to weep witli you for the events 
which have recently occurred, or to rejoice in the circum- 
stances with which they have been attended. Certainly, when 
I think with what virulence of united deceit and hatred I 
have been attacked, and my brother murdered, I cannot but 
mourn and grieve from my heart, from my very soul. Yet 
when I consider with what promptitude, anxiety, love, and 
unanimity of the whole city my brother has been avenged 
and myself defended, I am not only compelled to rejoice, 
but feel myself honoured and exalted ; for if experience has 
shown me that I had more enemies than I apprehended, it 
has also proved that I possess more warm and resolute friends 
than I could ever have hoped for. I must therefore grieve 
with you for the injuries others have suffered, and rejoice in 
the attachment you have exhibited towards myself; but I 
feel more aggrieved by the injuries committed, since they are 
so unusual, so unexampled, and (as I trust you believe) so 
undeserved on our part. Think, magnificent citizens, to 
what a dreadful point ill fortune has reduced our family, when 
amongst friends, amidst our own relatives, nay, in God's 
holy temple, we have found our greatest foes. Those who 
are in danger turn to their friends for assistance ; they call 
upon their relatives for aid ; but we found ours armed, and 
resolved on our destruction. Those who are persecuted. 

B. vm.cH. 2.A.D. 1475, SPEECH OF LOKENZO. 365 

either from public or private motives, flee for refuge to the 
altars ; but where others are safe, we are assassinated ; where 
parricides and assassins are secure, the Medici find their mur- 
derers. But God, who has not hitherto abandoned our house, 
again saved us, and has undertaken the defence of our 
just cause. ^What injury have we done to justify so in- 
tense desire of our destruction ? Certainly those who have 
shown themselves so much our enemies, never received any 
private wrong from us ; for, had we wished to injure them, 
they would not have had an opportunity of injuring us. If 
they attribute public grievances to ourselves (supposing any 
had been done to them) they do the greater injustice to you, 
to this palace, to the majesty of this government, by assuming 
that on our account you would act unfairly to any of your 
citizens ; and such a supposition, as we all know, is contra- 
dicted by every view of the circumstances ; for we, had we 
been able, and you, had we wished it, would never have 
contributed to so abominable a design. Whoever inquires 
into the truth of these matters, will find that our family has 
always been exalted by you, and from this sole cause, that 
we have endeavoured by kindness, liberality, and beneficence, 
to do good to all ; and if we have honoured strangers, when 
did we ever injure our relatives ? If our enemies' conduct 
has been adopted, to gratify their desire of power (as would 
seem to be the case from their having taken possession of the 
palace and brought an armed force into the piazza) the in- 
famous, ambitious, and detestable motive is at once disclosed. 
If they were actuated by envy and hatred of our authority, 
they offend you rather than us ; for from you we have de- 
rived all the influence we possess. Certainly usurped 
power deserves to be detested ; but not distinctions conceded 
for acts of kindness, generosity, and magnificence. And you 
all know that our family never attained any rank to which 
this palace and your united consent did not raise it. Cosmo, 
my grandfather, did not return from exile with arms and 
violence, but by your unanimous desire and approbation. It 
was not my father, old and infirm, who defended the govern- 
ment against so many enemies, but yourselves by your autho- 
rity and benevolence defended him ; neither could I, after 
his death, being then a boy, have maintained the position of 
my house except by your favour and advice. Nor should we 

366 HTSTOJRY OF FLORENCE. B. vm. ch. 2. a.d. 1479. 

ever be able to conduct the affairs of this republic, if you 
did not contribute to our support. Therefore, I know not 
the reason of their hatred towards us, or what just cause 
they have of envy. Let them direct their enmity against 
their own ancestors, who, by their pride and avarice, lost the 
reputation which ours, by very opposite conduct, were enabled 
to acquire. But let it be granted we have greatly injured 
them, and that they are justified in seeking our ruin ; why 
do they come and take possession of the palace ? Why enter 
into league with the pope and the king, against the liberties 
of this republic ? Why break the long- continued peace of 
Italy ? They have no excuse for this ; they ought to confine 
their vengeance to those who do them wrong, and not con- 
found private animosities with public grievances. Hence it 
is that since their defeat our misfortune is the greater ; for 
on their account the pope and the king make war upon us, 
and this war, they say, is directed against my family and 
myself. And would to God that this were true ; then the 
remedy would be sure and unfailing, for I would not be so 
base a citizen as to prefer my own safety to yours ; I would 
at once resolve to ensure your security, even though my own 
destruction were the immediate and inevitable consequence. 
But as the wrongs committed by princes are usually concealed 
under some less offensive covering, they have adopted this 
plea to hide their more abominable purpose. If, however, 
you think otherwise, I am in your hands ; it is with you to 
do with me what you please. You are my fathers, my pro- 
tectors, and whatever you command me to do I will perform 
most willingly ; nor will I ever refuse, when you find occasion 
to require it, to close the war with my own blood which was 
commenced with that of my brother." Whilst Lorenzo 
spoke, the citizens were unable to refrain from tears, and the 
sympathy with which he had been heard was extended to 
their reply, delivered by one of them in the name of the 
rest, who said that the city acknowledged many advantages 
derived from the good qualities of himself and his family ; and 
encouraged him to hope that with as much promptitude as they 
had used in his defence, and in avenging his brother's death, 
they would secure to him his influence in the government, 
which he should never lose whilst they retained possession of 
the country. And that their deeds might correspond with 

B.viit. ch. 3. a.d. 1479. PREPARATIONS FOR AVAR. 367 

their words, they immediately appointed a number of armed 
men, as a guard for the security of his person against do- 
mestic enemies. 


The Florentines prepare for war against the pope — They appeal to a future 
council — Papal and Neapolitan movements against the Florentines — 
The Venetians refuse to assist the Florentines — Disturbances in Milan 
— Genoa revolts from the duke — Futile endeavours to effect peace with 
the pope — The Florentines repulse their enemies from the territory of 
Pisa — They attack the papal states — The papal forces routed upon the 
borders of the Lake of Perugia. 

The Florentines now prepared for war, by raisiDg money 
and collecting as large a force as possible. Being in league 
with the duke of Milan and the Venetians, they applied to 
both for assistance. As the pope had proved himself a wolf 
rather than a shepherd, to avoid being devoured under false 
accusations, they justified their cause with all available argu- 
ments, and filled Italy with accounts of the treachery prac- 
tised against their government, exposing the impiety and 
injustice of the pontiff, and assured the world that the pontifi- 
cate which he had wickedly attained, he would as impiously fill ; 
for he had sent those whom he had advanced to the highest 
order of -prelacy, in the company of traitors and parricides, to 
commit the most horrid treachery in the church in the midst 
of divine service and during the celebration of the holy sa- 
crament, and that then, having failed to murder the citizens, 
change the government, and plunder the city, according to 
his intention, he had suspended the performance of all reli- 
gious offices, and injuriously menaced and injured the re- 
public with pontifical maledictions. But if God was just, 
and violence was offensive to him, he would be displeased 
with that of his vicegerent, and allow his injured people who 
were not admitted to communion with the latter, to offer up 
their prayers to himself. The Florentines, therefore, in- 
stead of receiving or obeying the interdict, compelled the 

368 HISTORY OF FLORENCE. B.vnr. ch. 3. a.d. 1479 

priests to perform divine service, assembled a council in 
Florence of all the Tuscan prelates under their jurisdiction, 
and appealed against the injuries suffered from the pontiff to 
a future general council. 

The pope did not neglect to assign reasons in his own jus- 
tification, and maintained it was the duty of a pontiff to 
suppress tyranny, depress the wicked, and exalt the good ; 
and that this ought to be done by every available means ; 
but that secular princes had no right to detain cardinals, 
hang bishops, murder, mangle, and drag about the bodies of 
priests, destroying without distinction the innocent with the 

Notwithstanding these complaints and accusations, the 
Florentines restored to the pope the cardinal whom they had 
detained, in return for which, he immediately assailed them 
with his own forces and those of the king. The two armies, 
under the command of Alfonso, eldest son of Ferrando, and 
duke of Calabria, who had as his general, Federigo, count 
of Urbino, entered the Chianti, by permission of the Sien- 
nese, who sided with the enemy, occupied Radda with many 
other fortresses, and having plundered the country, besieged 
the Castellina. The Florentines were greatly alarmed at these 
attacks, being almost destitute of forces, and finding their 
friends slow to assist ; for though the duke sent them aid, 
the Venetians denied all obligation to support the Flo- 
rentines in their private quarrels, since the animosities of 
individuals were not to be defended at the public expense. 
The Florentines, in order to induce the Venetians to take a 
more correct view of the case, sent Tommaso Soderini as 
their ambassador to the senate, and, in the meantime, en- 
gaged forces, and appointed Ercole, marquis of Ferrara, to 
the command of their army. Whilst these preparations were 
being made, the Castellina was so hard pressed by the enemy, 
that the inhabitants, despairing of relief, surrendered, after 
having sustained a siege of forty-two days. The enemy 
then directed their course towards Arezzo, and encamped 
before San Savino. The Florentine army being now in 
order, went to meet them, and having approached within 
three miles, caused such annoyance, that Federigo d'Ur- 
bino demanded a truce for a few days, which was granted, 
but proved so disadvantageous to the Florentines, that those ch.3. A.D.hlTi). REVOLT Or GENOA. 309 

who had made the request were astonished at having obtained 
it ; for, had it been refused, they would have been com- 
pelled to retire in disgrace. Having gained these few days to 
recruit themselves, as soon as they were expired, they took 
the castle in the presence of their enemies. Winter being 
now come, the forces of the pope and the king retired for 
convenient quarters to the Siennese territory. The Floren- 
tines also withdrew to a more commodious situation, and the 
marquis of Ferrara, having done little for himself and less for 
others, returned to his own territories. 

At this time, Genoa withdrew from the dominion of Milan, 
imder the following circumstances.